[ExI] Critter's Dilemma on the African Plain

The Avantguardian avantguardian2020 at yahoo.com
Thu Aug 7 03:31:03 UTC 2008

--- Lee Corbin <lcorbin at rawbw.com> wrote:
> Your case is very persuasive!  Thanks especially, though, for your very, very
> excellent summaries below, from those of us a little too impatient to sit
> through
> videos:

Thanks, Lee. :-)

> I relegate the rest of Stuart's nice descriptions to the codicil, below.
> For now, look at
> > Experienced safari guide *forces* lions to ignore him by first by
> communicating
> > submission to them and then threatening to defect on them with a roll of
> toilet
> > paper.
> and
> > Male human defects on male lion and *barely* escapes retaliation from dying
> > lion seeking revenge. Can you feel the love tonight?
> You apparently invite us to substitute the game theory term "defect"
> for any act of aggression or failure to cooperate?  I have a bad feeling
> about that, but cannot put it into words. (Perhaps lucky for me, since
> I hope you don't take disagreement or challenge as defection. :-)

Actually no. Ignorance and defection both are failures to cooperate, so to
speak. Although for precision I would prefer to simply call them alternative
options. Remember that all three moves are very precisely defined. Defection
does not have to be at all violent or agressive or even intentional. I define
it as the incurring of a non-neglible economic cost upon the other player by
any measure of utility one desires, whether it be space, time, dollars,
calories, offspring, or Darwinian fitness.

With that in mind, you are right that some people would consider the incurring
of a cost upon them, especially if they didn't get any benefit out of it, to be
"aggression" of a sort. Indeed "cost" and "benefit" are completely open to
interpretation because they are for the most part subjective.

This subjectivity of percieved cost and benefit leads to seemingly irrational
behavior. Like the notorious gunslinger John Wesley Hardin who allegedly shot a
man for snoring. Hardin certainly must have rationalized the snorer as costing
him something worthy of some fairly brutal retaliation.

Similarly people sometimes rationalize cooperating with defectors. "My friend
always intends to pay me back whenever I loan him money, he is just never able
to because he is unlucky." Or paying for cable when you never watch TV. In
these cases "retaliation" is as non-violent as saying no to your friend or
getting your cable disconnected. Of course as non-violent as it is, there is
liable to be resistance from both the friend and the cable company to your
retaliation. So yes defection is always aggressive just sometimes in a very
passive or defensive way. 

Disagreement or challenge is only defection when it costs me something and
banter on a chat list seldom does. Besides I was hoping for some peer review or
criticism from the scholarly types on the list. I am after all forwarding this
as a scientific theory. So please keep trying to give voice to any "bad
feelings" you might have about it.  

> Usually the rich variety of words within a language are there for a 
> reason. They did, after all, evolve, because it's seldom that a government,
> (even the French government), or an influential individual will simply 
> decree usage of words and get away with it.  So we have a lot of
> highly nuanced English words that you're deliberately passing up. Well,
> of course, maybe we ought to more often look at these things in game
> theoretic terms, which may be your point.  But neologisms rarely work
> out, you know, along with non-standard language uses.

Critter's Dilemma is a mathematical-empirical bionomic model and makes no claim
to the title of philosophy, ethic, or moral code. It is simply a description of
nature, a very useful one. To try to derive human values from it is falling
prey to the naturalistic fallacy.

Of course being both a naturalist and a transhumanist, I embrace the so-called
naturalistic fallacy as beautiful truth and instead criticize the irrational
belief in the supernatural or the artificial. Unlike legislation or even moral
codes, it is not possible to violate the laws of nature, whether you understand
them or not. Therefore if it is at all possible by some clever technological
trick or other natural phenomenon then it is perfectly natural.
The good or evil of any act depends solely on the subjective cost or benefit of
the people affected by the act. If it costs someone something they will say it
is evil, if it benefits them they will say it is good, and if neither, they
probably won't even notice the act to begin with.
> Still, why look at the human/lion relationship as in any way whatsoever
> a classic game?

Because classic game or not, one cannot choose to not play. To know the rules
and to play deliberately allows one to choose ones relationship with lions or
anything else one may encounter in ones travels. The only way to win Critter's
Dilemma is to get the relationships one wants to have, with the critters one
wants to have them with and to stay in the game. And every other game, whether
it be the stock market, parcheesi or nuclear war is simply a sub game of CD
that falls squarely in the relationship square of competition. 

Stuart LaForge
alt email: stuart"AT"ucla.edu

"A portion of mankind take pride in their vices and pursue their purpose; many more waver between doing what is right and complying with what is wrong." - Horace


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