[ExI] People are Genuine Altruists, Sociopaths, or Confused/Moody

Lee Corbin lcorbin at rawbw.com
Mon Sep 15 15:48:19 UTC 2008

Harvey wrote

> [Lee] wrote
>> Well, we should perhaps strive to avoid the word "altruism", since
>> its use seeds confusion. What I am saying is that in these special
>> circumstances it cannot be well argued that so paying would be
>> in the payer's self interest (modulo the conscience note again).
> You're fixing the wrong problem.  The word "altruism" is fine.
> There is no confusion.  I really am arguing that the tipper is
> paying for services rendered.

The point that you seem to be missing is that the "rendered"
is "past tense". Have you ever studied the non-interated Prisoner's
Dilemma (NIPD) of game theory fame?

The whole idea---why am I having to explain this?---is that you tip
*after* the service is rendered, and that the person providing you the
service must *trust* you to pay. You can "defect", as is said in the
literature, by receiving the service and then leaving without paying
which gives that person no recourse. The special circumstance so widely
known in the literature specifies that it is no longer in your foreseeable
self-interest to leave the tip (in these special cases) *after* the service
has been rendered.

> The tipper literally gets something for their money.

Got something. Past tense.

> You keep thinking

I don't know what the hell you're thinking  (that's why I'm asking)
and please stop trying to say what I think. You don't know and
can't know that. Nastly habit there, fellow, that you've got to break!

> [that] I must be misunderstanding the question, and you keep asking the 
> same question over and over in different ways.  But, seriously, this is my 
> answer.  Tipping is not charity.  It is paying for services rendered.

I know! I know!  It's just that you don't *have* to pay and yet still
be acting (in these special situations) entirely in your own self-interest!

>> More importantly, I do not believe that you grok my meaning of 
>> "simulation". I will explain again, by a hypothetical.
> No, don't explain again.  I grok just fine.  You keep asking the same 
> question and clarifying the same question and inventing new thought 
> experiments about the same question.  It's always the same question.
> Why can't you accept that the answer is always going to be the same?

Because you have not explained *how* it can be in the self-interest
of a truly rational, calculating, person who has only his own self-interest
at heart to leave the tip! 

>> do you really think it makes sense to "pay back" people who have
>> been nice to you (when there is utterly no possibility of future 
>> encounters with them where the simulation will hold a grudge)?
> Yes, yes, and yes!  Again, yes!  I pay them back because I owe them.  Not 
> because they will hold a grudge.  Not because I will be caught or punished 
> later.  Not because I might encounter them again.  None of those 
> considerations enter my mind.  Even if I never see them again, I pay back 
> what I owe.

Yes, but why?   Why do you do that?   I do it too, but I can explain
why I do it. I do it because at that point in time, it's not just *my*
self-interest I have in mind, nor does my self-interest explain my
behavior. I actually care about that person in the NIPD who I am
able to defect against but against whom I choose not to, or at least
want to do this agreed-upon favor, in a completely unselfish way.

Your explanations keep coming down to things like "you owe him",
as though it were literally inconceivable that you could default on what
you owe, or inconceivable that you would welsh on a deal, or that
you could defect in the NIPD.   Notice that I said "as though". I do
not put thoughts into the minds of people I communicate with (except
in rare instances where I must guess and it's pretty easily seen as an aid to
communication, e.g., as can happen often in math or physics problems).

> They show kindness to me, I show kindness to them.  They give 
> me extra service, I give them extra pay.  All of these examples involve me 
> paying for something I have received.  It is a fair exchange of goods and 
> services.

But you don't explain *why* you act this way, or why people like you
act this way, and you appear to be evading the entire analysis of behavior
that takes place in those of us who cooperate even when it is no longer 
in our own interest to do so.


More information about the extropy-chat mailing list