Prisoners' Dilemma and Public Choice Theory


  1. Remote Link - HTML Rent-Seeking, Public Choice, and The Prisoner's Dilemma, by Kelley L. Ross. From the Friesian School site.

Prisoners' Dilemma

This classic problem of game theory sheds light on many of the problems that have plagued ethical and political philosophers throughout history. It addresses that class of situations in which there is a fundamental conflict between what is a rational choice for an individual member of a group and for the group as a whole. It helps us understand how such dilemmas can be resolved for the greater good.

  1. Local Link - HTML The Tragedy of the Commons, by Garrett Hardin. This discusses a situation which is a version of the Prisoner's Dilemma. Also see further discussion here.
  2. Remote Link - HTML Resolving the Tragedy of the Commons by Creating Private Property Rights in Wildlife, by Robert J. Smith, Cato Institute publication.
  3. Remote Link - HTML Complexity of Cooperation Web Site.
  4. Remote Link - HTML The Prisoner's Dilemma Competition.
  5. Remote Link - HTML Ethical Spectacle, Sep. 1995 — The entire issue of this journal was dedicated to the subject, and has been put online.
  6. Remote Link - HTML Prisoner's Dilemma — Collection of links to subject by Ariel Dolan.
  7. Remote Link - HTML Serendip's Interactive Prisoners' Dilemma Game — Play it yourself.
    1. Remote Link - HTML You Have Found The Prisoners' Dilemma — Play the game.
  8. Remote Link - HTML Tacit Cooperation, Strategic Uncertainty, and Coordination Failure: Evidence from Repeated Dominance Solvable Games, by John B. Van Huyck, John M. Wildenthal, and Raymond C. Battalio.
  9. Remote Link - HTML Chaos, cheating and cooperation: potential solutions to the Prisoner's Dilemma, by Björn Brembs. Extended discussion of iterated prisoner's dilemma.
  10. Remote Link - HTML The Prisoners' Dilemma, by F. Heylighen. Collection of links and documents.

Public Choice

This is a growing body of theory that explores the conflict between what is rational for individuals and minorities and what is rational for the group as a whole.

  1. Local Link - HTML Remote Link - HTML Understanding Democracy: An Introduction to Public Choice, J. Patrick Gunning — Textbook on public choice theory for economists and political scientists that is accessible to laypersons.
  2. Remote Link - HTML Introduction to Public Choice Theory, by Leon Felkins (original 1997 Jan. 10, revised 2001 Nov. 8) — The social phenomena discussed in this series of essays all center around the problem of individuals in groups faced with the choice of doing what is best for themselves or what is best for the group. Instances of the phenomena are called by many different names: "Volunteer's Dilemma", "Prisoner's Dilemma", "Collective Choice", "Rational Choice", "Social Choice", and "Voter's Paradox", to list just a few.
  3. Remote Link - HTML The Calculus of Consent: Logical Foundations of Constitutional Democracy, James M. Buchanan and Gordon Tullock. Explains why policy tends to be dominated by special interests to the disadvantage of the general interests of the people. This was the book that opened the field of public choice theory. In 1986 Buchanan was awarded the Nobel Prize in Economics for his discoveries in this field.
  4. Remote Link - HTML Rent-Seeking, Public Choice, and The Prisoner's Dilemma, Kelley L. Ross (1996, 2002) — Examines the process by which those who most benefit from public policy come to control public policymaking processes.
  5. Remote Link - HTML Public Choice Theory: An Introduction, Julie Novak.
  6. Remote Link - HTML Public Choice Theory: Not the Whole Story, Tibor R. Machan.
  7. Remote Link - HTML Public Choice Society — Association for public choice researchers.
  8. Remote Link - HTML Center for Study of Public Choice, George Mason University — Have graduate program in public choice theory.
  9. Remote Link - HTML Production and Diffusion of Public Choice, May 19-20, 2000, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Blacksburg, Virginia — Conference.
  10. Remote Link - HTML Public Choice Theory, Morgan Reynolds, Professor of Economics, Texas A & M University.
  11. Remote Link - HTML The Assault on the First Amendment: Public Choice and Political Correctness, Paul H. Rubin.
  12. Remote Link - HTML Democracy As Tyranny, Keith Preston — Review of Hans Hermann Hoppe, Democracy: The God That Failed – The Economics and Politics of Monarchy, Democracy and Natural Order, (Transaction Publishers, 2001). Uses public-choice ideas to argue for breakup of nations into sovereign village-states.

Dead links

These links formerly worked but no longer do. Anyone who can tell us what the new URLs might be are encouraged to inform us.

Also see The Sortition Option.

Home » Basics
Original URL:
Maintained: Jon Roland of the Constitution Society
Original date: 1997/7/24 —