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Game Theory, the Prisoner's Dilemma, and the Book of Mormon

TitleGame Theory, the Prisoner's Dilemma, and the Book of Mormon
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2013
AuthorsSchwartz, Robert F.
JournalBYU Studies Quarterly
Start Page67

Game theory has been applied to a number of disciplines, including economics, law, politics, sociology, and Bible studies, but this article is the first serious attempt to apply it to the Book of Mormon narrative. One particularly important model in game theory is known as the Prisoner's Dilemma, which emphasizes the possibility and benefits of cooperation in the face of conflict. The Book of Mormon account is an almost constant narrative based on conflict, first within the family of Lehi and then between two warring factions that arise from a split in that original Book of Mormon family. These conflicts tend to fit the Prisoner's Dilemma model extremely well. In a final estimation, the Prisoner's Dilemma and its application in the Book of Mormon provide another way of looking at the Book of Mormon's core messages of atonement, redemption, and the gospel of Jesus Christ.