# Game theory?

What can 'game theory' tell us about life? The prisoner's dilemma is an issue of Pareto optimality, wherein the best possible outcome is one where both parties cooperate with each other to derive the highest Pareto optimality. But, the issue is that the highest Pareto optimality for the prisoner's dilemma is achieved when an external factor or force is mandated.

Therefore what can be said about ethics if an external force or factor is mandated to enforce the best possible outcome?

## Answers and Replies

russ_watters
Mentor
What can 'game theory' tell us about life? The prisoner's dilemma is an issue of Pareto optimality, wherein the best possible outcome is one where both parties cooperate with each other to derive the highest Pareto optimality. But, the issue is that the highest Pareto optimality for the prisoner's dilemma is achieved when an external factor or force is mandated.
Well, as the links suggest, it speaks to quite a large fraction of human behavior.
Therefore what can be said about ethics if an external force or factor is mandated to enforce the best possible outcome?
Not a lot. It's more about trust and logic. And not for nothing, but there is no "best possible outcome".

StoneTemplePython
Gold Member
The prisoner's dilemma is an issue of Pareto optimality, wherein the best possible outcome is one where both parties cooperate with each other to derive the highest Pareto optimality.

This is completely wrong. Pareto optimality really has nothing to do with it. Neither does Hicks-Kaldor for that matter. Nor does any general societal utility evaluation.

Prisoner's dilemma is a simple 2 person game (the utility of the judge or prison warden, has nothing to do with it -- for instance you might ask why the detectives in the background are inducing the prisoners to inform on each other if the prisoners collectively keeping their mouth shut was actually Pareto improving -- i.e. in the detectives interest too, let alone general society). Cooperation doesn't work in the 1-shot formulation though it can when it is an indefinite game.

But, the issue is that the highest Pareto optimality for the prisoner's dilemma is achieved when an external factor or force is mandated.

I have no idea what this means, but my sense is you still haven't studied game theory. Near the end of the course you'd see repeated game formulation of it, which introduces multiple equilibria and some hope for not so bad human behavior at least when long term relationships are involved.