Rationality and stability in the theory of moves: The case of the prisoner's dilemma

Woerdman, E., Feb-2000, In : Rationality and Society. 12, 1, p. 67-86 20 p.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

According to Brams' Theory of Moves (TOM), mutual cooperation will emerge in the Prisoner's Dilemma Game (PDG) from all initial states (except initial state (2,2)). Contrary to this result, only applying the rules of TOM to the PDG (including the precedence norm) yields mutual defection from all initial states (except initial state (3,3)). It appears that TOM achieves the cooperative outcomes by introducing a concept of voluntary cooperation (magnanimity) and an interpretation of self-interest (the Two-Sidedness Convention), which are both based on collective rationality. Specifically, these elements of TOM ignore the conflict between individual and collective rationality, which characterizes the dilemma of the PDG. In addition, the PDG in TOM is not internally stable in the case of uncertainty with regard to the starting point of the game.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)67-86
Number of pages20
JournalRationality and Society
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Feb-2000


  • Prisoner's Dilemma game, rationality, stability, theory of moves, voluntary cooperation, SOCIAL NORMS

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