Friday, February 10, 2012

Rationality, Criminals, and the "Score of a Lifetime"

We often see movies in which criminals enter into a conspiracy the outcome of which is the "score of a lifetime."  Think Ocean's Eleven.  At the same time, however, we often see movies where some member of the group double-crosses the rest, usually killing the crew, in order to take home the entire pot of gold rather than his individual share.  Think The Italian Job.  So my question is this:

is it ever rational for criminals to enter into a criminal conspiracy the goal of which is the "score of a lifetime"?

The target -- the score of a lifetime -- seems to suggest a one-off cooperative scheme.  So how can one rationally enter into such an arrangement?  Think prisoners' dilemma situations.

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