[ExI] Etymology of Critter's Dilemma

The Avantguardian avantguardian2020 at yahoo.com
Tue Aug 19 03:19:34 UTC 2008

--- Lee Corbin <lcorbin at rawbw.com> wrote:

> Why don't you come up with terms that (a) are not already 
> well-defined in exactly the same context, (b) are not silly
> and hard to remember? Thinking up a good name for these
> moves of yours is even more important than thinking up
> appropriate names for programming variables (which is
> *plenty* important).

I have considered your thoughts on the matter and decided to leave the moves as
they are for the following reasons:

1. In the game theory of PD, defection is defined simply as "betrayal". CD
doesn't alter that, it just defines the word more precisely in a larger

2. Critter's Dilemma is a direct evolutionary descendant of Prisoner's Dilemma
and I feel I would be defecting on Axelrod, Nash, and other sources of my
inspiration if I change the names of the moves. I would rather do violence to
the definition of a word than to the memory of great thinkers.

3. The correspondence principle requires it. Similar to the way that quantum
mechanics or special relativity reduces to classical mechanics in the limit of
high or low energies respectively, so too shall Critter's Dilemma reduce to
Prisoner's Dilemma in the limit of coercive systems like prisons, gladiatorial
arenas, and non-free markets.

> Okay, if you're going to stick with "snap", "crackle", and "pop",
> (I sincerely suggest you stay away from "defect" and "cooperate", 
> but "ignore" I guess fits), then please provide very careful definitions
> with examples (and counter-examples).

1. Cooperate: To have a net positive effect on another player by bestowing a
non-neglible benefit (i.e. an increase in utility) upon the other player for
whatever reason. Since rational players seek to maximize their own benefit,
cooperation is to conform to the intentions of the other player irregardless of
whether it is due to ones own intent, circumstance, coercion, or deception.
Examples of cooperation include submitting to authority, paying for something
(whether the price is fair or not), getting eaten by a predator, hosting
squatters on ones land, or participating in a team effort. Counter-examples
include cheating on your spouse, preying on an animal, defending yourself in a
fight, withdrawing from a team effort, or hiding from the other player.
Sometimes cooperation is smart and sometimes it is isn't.

2. Ignore: To have a neglible effect or no effect at all on the other player in
terms of utility. To ignore another critter is to neither help nor hinder their
intentions in terms of cost or benefit. Since rational players evolved to
maximize their benefit and minimize their costs, ignorance will often go
unnoticed by the other player. Examples include avoiding the other player,
being unaware of another player without accidently affecting them, tolerating
the other player, being unable to affect them, or hiding from them.
Counter-examples include giving the other player something or taking something
from them. Sometimes ignoring the other player is smart and sometimes it is

3. Defect: To incur a non-neglible cost upon the other player for whatever
reason. Since all rational agents (i.e. critters) seek to minimize cost,
defection is a betrayal or thwarting of the intentions of the other player.
Examples include all manner of violence, stealing, cheating, extortion,
vandalism, defending oneself from attack, active denial, competing in a race or
other form of competition, taking revenge, seeking justice, suing someone,
rebelling against or undermining authority, drinking their last beer, or simply
eating them. Counter-examples include taking one for the team, letting sleeping
dogs lie, or being someone's bitch. Sometimes defecting is smart and sometimes
it is not. 

Stuart LaForge

"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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