Hobbes predicts all
In Hobbe’s Leviathan, he discusses covenants and how they are upheld. Hobbes states that in order for man to be expected to perform his covenant, that is, to honor his part, the fear of punishment must outweigh the reward of breaching the covenant. This simple equation is still applicable today. A British game show, Golden Balls, employs the concepts perfectly. Just like the Prisoner Dilemma, two people are faced with the decision between sharing one outcome, or each individually having separate outcomes, one better, one worse.
Did the woman in the gameshow breach a covenant? If she did so, Hobbes would say it was because in her eyes, the only punishment of doing so, not receiving money, was not severe enough to deter her from the $100,ooo prize. However, if there was no contract, then the woman was simply taking what she had a right to, which according to Hobbes, is everything. I will argue that there was no covenant in place, as her and the male contestant both simply made promises to each other, and there was no “power to make him [or her] perform” as Hobbes would say.
With no covenant in place, it seems obvious that both people desire the prize in its entirety, and that both would try and take it. So why is the man so easily deceived by the woman? The answer is that the man is considering too many factors, as would all of us (except Hobbes of course.) Hobbes predicted that she would take the money, as she had a right for it. But she was a beautiful, young, nice lady. She promised she would split the money. The male fell victim to his previously conceived notions, and because of this, he doesn’t have $100,000. Society does not operate solely on covenants made and broken, and nor could it. Instead we must factor in all we know about who we are dealing with in negotiations. The man thought he had judged the situation properly, but in the end was out a lot of money.
This leads me to the main message of this post. If ever on a gameshow resembling any variation of the prisoner problem, steal steal steal, and don’t feel bad, Hobbes says it’s OK.