The Shadow of the Future

Perhaps repeated interactions can solve the prisoner’s dilemma…

Takeaway Points

  1. Conflict is the only solution to one-shot prisoner’s dilemma play.
  2. If states play repeatedly but the end of the interaction is known ahead of time, the inevitability of future conflict sabotages cooperation in the present.
  3. If repeated play solves the prisoner’s dilemma, it must be that states do not know when their interaction will end.