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The Prisoner's Dilemma


The Prisoner's Dilemma

Logo for The Prisoner's Dilemma
Provides an interactive version of the Prisoner's Dilemma, which was developed in game theory and which illustrates the role and importance of trust and cooperation in social structures. Also includes a good exposition ("Dilemma in Detail") of the ideas behind prisoner's dilemma, development of the game, links to political philosophy, and some of its practical applications (economic exchanges, public goods, nuclear disarmament).
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Material Type: Simulation
Technical Format: Shockwave
Date Added to MERLOT: March 19, 2004
Date Modified in MERLOT: May 22, 2012
Submitter: Stephen Martin


  • Reviewed by members of Editorial board for inclusion in MERLOT.
    Editor Review
    Very good quality; in queue to be peer reviewed
    avg: 5 rating
  • User review 4.33 average rating
  • User Rating: 4.33 user rating
  • Discussion (3 Comments)
  • Learning Exercises (none)
  • Bookmark Collections (9)
  • Course ePortfolios (none)
  • Accessibility Info (none)

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Primary Audience: College General Ed
Mobile Compatibility: Not specified at this time
Language: English
Cost Involved: no
Source Code Available: no
Accessiblity Information Available: no
Creative Commons: unsure


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Discussion for The Prisoner's Dilemma

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Avatar for Maha Bali
6 years ago

Maha Bali (Staff)

Warning: this is kind of addictive... it's a game, after all. It's helpful that there is also text around it to give theoretical perspective on the philosophical problem. Can it also be used in teaching probability? Can the game be enahnced by adding a score for "correctly guessing" your opponent's strategy (if random is chosen)? Can it be done as a 2-player game (obviously this can be done face to face, too!)

Technical Remarks:

Requires Shockwave
Time spent reviewing site: About 15 minutes

Avatar for Philip Pecorino
7 years ago

Philip Pecorino (Faculty)

As fine a presentation of The Prisoner's Dilemma as you are likely to find in a two dimensional format. The key here is to get students to read the text that accompanies the simulation. The text is a first rate presentation as well.

Avatar for Matt Angrisani
10 years ago

Matt Angrisani (Student)

I really enjoyed using this website. I spent about half an hour on the site
playing with the interactive game as well as reading some of the text explaining
the whole concept of the Prisoner's Dilema. This website introduced me to a
concept in Philosophy that I had not been exposed to yet-- Game Theory. I found
the concept fascinating and it would have been extremely difficult to
understand without the aid of the interactive game or the easy-to-read
explaination. I would almost certainly use this in the classroom in a course
which covered this material. The website as a whole is very user-friendly. The
page is well laid out and pertinent to the field.