Prisoner's Dilemma Short Essay - Answer Key

William Poundstone
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1. What are the details of one of the ethical dilemmas described in Chapter 1 of "Prisoner's Dilemma"?

In Chapter 1 of the book one example of an ethical dilemma is the case of two loved ones, each in a separate room. They have one hour to push or not push a button; pushing it kills their loved one, not pushing it saves themselves. After one hour they both die if neither has pushed the button. They have no idea what the other person will do and doing nothing means they both could die.

2. When was the Cold War and who was involved?

The Cold War was a prolonged nuclear race after WWII. This war was between the United States and the Soviet Union.

3. Why did Russell and von Neumann advocate preventative war during the Cold War?

Bertrand Russell and John von Neumann believed that a first strike against the Soviet Union would prevent nuclear war between the two countries. So they pushed for preventative war, a first strike which would give the striking the country the advantage, eliminating any reason for retaliation by the other country.

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