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Kantian Ethics and the Prisoners' Dilemma

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  • Mark D White

    () (Department of Political Science, Economics, and Philosophy, College of Staten Island/CUNY, 2800 Victory Blvd., Staten Island, NY 10314, USA.)

Abstract

The prisoners' dilemma game stands as a seminal case of the conflict between individual and collective rationality. Some scholars have suggested that Kantian duty-based ethics can prevent the suboptimal outcomes associated with the game. I argue that this claim is too strong, because Kant's moral theory does not entail specific duties requiring cooperation in prisoners' dilemma games. I support this argument in terms of Kant's categorical imperative, and also with reference to his distinction between perfect and imperfect duties. Eastern Economic Journal (2009) 35, 137–143. doi:10.1057/eej.2008.20

Suggested Citation

  • Mark D White, 2009. "Kantian Ethics and the Prisoners' Dilemma," Eastern Economic Journal, Palgrave Macmillan;Eastern Economic Association, vol. 35(2), pages 137-143.
  • Handle: RePEc:pal:easeco:v:35:y:2009:i:2:p:137-143
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    Cited by:

    1. Al-Suwailem, Sami, 2014. "Complexity and endogenous instability," Research in International Business and Finance, Elsevier, vol. 30(C), pages 393-410.
    2. Bruno Deffains & Claude Fluet, 2013. "Legal Liability when Individuals Have Moral Concerns," Journal of Law, Economics, and Organization, Oxford University Press, vol. 29(4), pages 930-955, August.
    3. Mark White, 2010. "Adam Smith and Immanuel Kant: On Markets, Duties, and Moral Sentiments," Forum for Social Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 39(1), pages 53-60, January.
    4. Sami Al-Suwailem, 2012. "Complexity and Endogenous Instability," ASSRU Discussion Papers 1203, ASSRU - Algorithmic Social Science Research Unit.

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