We live in a world where people do not always do the right, moral thing and sometimes have a tendency to look after themselves and their own first. In most cases, it is more important for a person to benefit from a situation regardless of the outcome for the other(s) involved. Self-interest motivates people's actions whether these actions appear moral or not. With this in mind, it seems almost impossible for cooperation to exist and to help improve a potential problem if one arises. However, we do know that cooperation does occur and that our civilization is greatly based upon it. It is the sovereign that controls people's actions and limits their personal self interests. The sovereign enforces cooperation to benefit society. But according to certain arguments placed by the Prisoner's Dilemma, the sovereign cannot succeed in limiting people"s self-interest. .
People may ask themselves just how much assistance they would offer to someone who never helps them in return. For instance, a journalist who has received "gossip" news may give ample story coverage to the source in hopes that the source will continue "leaking" information. People want the best possible outcome from any situation, and usually will cooperate with others if it means gaining something in the future. But how much do people cooperate if they know nothing will be gained? Or how much do people not cooperate if they figure it can outsmart an opponent? These questions are brought up in one particular situation -- the Prisoner's Dilemma. .
Suppose the police accuse Jennifer and Bill of collaborating on a treasonous activity. The police proceed to lock Jennifer and Bill in two separate cells. They do this in order to prevent Jennifer and John from communicating with one another. Keep in mind that the police want to get an admission of guilt from either Jennifer or John. Accordingly, the police offer Jennifer the following deal: If both you and John confess you will each get five years in prison.