Faceless Syrio, on 04 April 2012 - 09:52 AM, said:
That's not what I would respond, actually. I think the difference is in our understanding of what the model really says. It does not say that all individuals always act in their self-interest, making "self-interest" the amorphous and ultimately useless concept you correctly point out it would then become. It says that, when a group of individuals competes for a resource, whatever that resource is, someone - not all, but at least one -- will always choose to further his or her own self-interest to the detriment of others. The important relationship is that there is an action the person could take to benefit both himself and others, but taking another action gives that particular person more for himself than the first, and someone will always make that choice. In that sense, it's the choice between making it zero sum (totally self-interested and harmful to others) and mutually beneficial (sacrificing a little individually so all can benefit).
But the point is explicitly not that everyone will always act in their own "self-interest." Some will always act less self-interested than others, in relationship to the competition for a resource. (And fwiw, I agree that it is usually in the context of material resources, but it does not have to be. It just has to be something people fight over that is not inexhaustible.)
Ok. There are a couple of points here that are muddling the issue up a bit. I think the most important is the point that I am not attempting to talk only about the hawk/dove model. I purposely broadened the discussion to what my experience has been with game theory/rational choice models more broadly, and the underlying assumptions used to justify these things. My experience has been that humans are assumed to be solely rationally self-interested actors in these models, and that we predict their actions based on their self interest. LLL has held to this position, that even if actors are only choosing their perceived maximum utility, and even if their self-interest is immaterial, they are still always seeking what they believe to be their self-interest. And I do think that holding that position stretches self-interest out to something exceedingly diffuse.
Now, in the case of the hawk/dove model. You're right, the purpose of the model is to say that a society of all doves (non aggressors) will always be at risk of having a hawk arrive/evolve/aggressive strategy arise to the detriment of others. And you
don't hold the view that humans are always
self-interested actors. Ok. I still don't see the usefulness of this insight. It tells me that someone,
although not necessarily everyone, will act in their own interest rather than the interest of the group. What am I going to do with this insight? Well, it's still going to tell me that I need to change incentives in order to stop that someone
from acting in their own interest to the detriment of the group. But there is still nothing about this model that tells me in a useful way why
that someone is defecting. (Especially when you've removed even the diffuse attempt rational choice theorists usually use to explain behavior- utility maximization). You're saying some
people will maximize group utility, and others will maximize their own utility at the expense of the group. Now we really have no idea why
people are doing what they're doing. And I will still say that unless we are coming to an understanding of why,
we're not providing any useful information about how we ought to change the incentives of the game being played in order to produce an outcome we consider more desirable. If you don't know what collection of incentives and costs are leading some to choose selfish strategies while others choose strategies that benefit the group, how can we hope to change the behavior of the self-interested?
Lord Littlefinger, on 04 April 2012 - 12:16 PM, said:
no, I won't if you don't assert them as fact but rather as a thought experiment. I didn't always think the way I do now and I presume I won't always in the future. To this point however no one has presented as viable alternative. Usually they say something like morality is good therefore people should be moral. When I challenge your assertions usually its because 1) I want to know what your underlying assumptions are and 2) I want to know if you know what your underlying assumptions. Is your premise derived by logically extend a set of basic assumptions or does it really on the Dothraki principle "It is known"?
asserting 'It is known' and then drawing conclusions off of those assumptions. But no, I would not say 'morality is good and therefore people should be moral'. For the purposes of human behavior, my assumption is that there is such a thing as morality that is defined by common human experience, that it is observable as a tendency to build societies that seek less harm and greater good for the greatest numbers, and that this moral concept is an important factor in driving behavior.
Lord Littlefinger, on 04 April 2012 - 03:33 PM, said:
No but we can surmise that an individual completely incapable of discerning their self interest would not survive. Further, we can surmise that an individual who defined their self interest solely as material goods for their consumption would not reproduce, so individuals who behaved based on this standard would tend to be eliminated from the population. We can observe and postulate situations where individuals pool their resources and cooperate to serve their self interest. Now we could assume that people knowingly cooperate to their detriment. But individuals who did this who did this would be at a disadvantage and would tend to die out over time as compared to those who cooperated selfishly and took advantage of those who cooperated to their own detriment.
You're saying that individuals who weren't interested in the right things would not survive, not that individuals who were incapable of discerning their self interest would not survive. One can conceivably know that their self interest does not lead to survival and reproduction and it would still be self interest.
In any case, you're right that we could surmise that based on the assumptions. That's still not proving that the assumptions were correct in the first place.
by any means available to them?
'How' doesn't mean what you are taking it to mean in this context. I'm saying how in the sense of what methods they use to bring them utility, as in more utility from eating a cookie over eating a cupcake. I'm not saying how in the sense of what methods they would use to get the cookie.
I'm not sure it does. Its not clear that individuals themselves understand why they want what they want . You don't need know what people want or how they get. All you need to do is pick your arbitrary set of behaviors that you find objectionable and enforce penalties in order to discourage them. Randall Tarly does this in Maiden Pool. And then pick your arbitrary set of behaviors you want encourage and reward people. Currency is the easiest reward, but Lands and Titles, sex and respect also work in Westeros, sometimes better. Kevan Lannister does this, as he's administering the Riverlands after Tywin's death.
But of course it matters that we understand how people decide subjectively what things they value. If we don't know what things a potential rule-breaker values, we won't know what punishments will serve as the best deterrents to keep them from breaking our rules (even if our rules are arbitrary).
Edited by OnionAhaiReborn, 04 April 2012 - 07:49 PM.