Type JournalArticle
Date 1994-04
Volume 54
Number 2
Tags nonfiction, Newcomb's problem, prisoners' dilemma
Journal Analysis
Pages 65--72

A New Take from Nozick on Newcomb's Problem and Prisoners' Dilemma

Hurley compares Nozick's discussion of Newcomb's problem in The Nature of Rationality to his earlier discussion in Newcomb's Problem and Two Principles of Choice. He is unsatisfied with Nozick's later analysis of people's choosing different decision strategies depending on the amount of money in the first box in Newcomb's problem. Hurley argues that this might be understood not as a conflict between causal and evidential reasoning, as Nozick would have it, but between causal and cooperative reasoning.

Hurley notes that we have no insight into the predictor's preferences. However, it is natural to view the predictor and the predictee to be in a sort of prisoner's dilemma, with the predictor preferring one-boxing, then preferring giving less money, and the predictee preferring to maximize cash received. Then applying cooperative reasoning as in the prisoner's dilemma will allow the two to jointly achieve the second-best outcome: a million dollars for a one-boxer. Hurley presents the concrete example of a parent who wishes to teach a child not to be greedy.

Name Role
S. L. Hurley Author