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

Damien Broderick thespike at satx.rr.com
Mon Sep 15 20:31:31 UTC 2008

At 08:48 AM 9/15/2008 -0700, Lee wrote:

>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?

Why indeed? Do you think people like Harvey don't *know* all this? 
Obviously the disagreement goes deeper.

>---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.

I suspect what's going on here is an inappropriate application of a 
brutally simplified abstraction to a complex social, interpersonal 
human reality.

My sense is that game theory, exemplified by PD, was created to model 
the paranoiac interactions of autarkic monads: nation states, 
especially. It can find a use as well in modelling mindless, 
affectless gene competition. Applied to complicated human being--with 
our numerous affiliations, elaborate memory and records, tendencies 
inherited and learned not only to punish cheats but to do so with 
special vehemence, empathy that causes one human to sympathize with 
another who's suffering or happy and therefore to act as if that 
person's interests were jointly shared--the PD and even NPD break 
down into a sort of self-defeating extreme autism or sociopathy. I'm 
reminded of the parched nonsense behaviorists used to spout when I 
was first at university in the 1960s. Psychology and linguistics 
eventually got over it.

Damien Broderick

More information about the extropy-chat mailing list