Escaping the tragedy of the commons through targeted punishment
Failures of cooperation cause many of society's gravest problems. It is well known that cooperation among many players faced with a social dilemma can be maintained thanks to the possibility of punishment, but achieving the initial state of widespread cooperation is often much more difficult. We show here that there exist strategies of ‘targeted punishment’ whereby a small number of punishers can shift a population of defectors into a state of global cooperation. By Samuel Johnson.