The Imprisoner’s Dilemma is a blog project authored by Daniel J. D’Amico. In July of 2010, all of the material from my previous blog, Austrian Addiction was cross posted here thanks to the heroic efforts of David Veksler, internet extraordinaire.
The Imprisoner’s Dilemma gets its namesake from Dan’s dissertation, “The Imprisoner’s Dilemma: The Political Economy of Proportionate Punishment.” Thanks to Adam Martin for the pithy turn of phrase. Here is an excerpt from my summary paper published in the ERASMUS Journal for Philosophy and Economics:
As James Madison explained in the Federalist Paper, No. 51 (1788), institutional design attempts to promote mutual exchange while suppressing coercion. If punishments are levied so the short term rewards of crime are not attractive compared to the long term rewards of production and exchange, then individuals will choose the latter. In
the prisoner’s dilemma of social interaction, the rule of law acts at the meta-level.
As my title implies, I intend to treat the imprisoner—the central planner, the government itself—as no different from the traditional agents that economists so often analyze. I entertain the possibility that state authorities are no better informed or incentivized than the ordinary individuals within society, and that are also tempted by the
rewards of defection.
Men are governed by other men—imperfect and fallible. Real punishments are imperfect because those who create, interpret, and enforce the rules are not God. Yet it is a bizarre irony that today’s most popular criminal justice theories—those theories which supposedly justify, legitimize, guide, organize, and motivate the criminal justice system—begin from the premises that the state authority is the necessary and sufficient purveyor of criminal punishments.
I will continue to post on material broadly relevant to the applied political economy of crime and punishment.
If you would care to contact me, please feel free to send an email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thank you for visiting.
Daniel J. D’Amico