Ethics have been on my mind; largely martak's Chaos, Hostility, & Murder: A Love Story & The Ethicist are to blame, in the grander scope of things. In the grandest scope of things is the fact that Evil & Skeptisicm are questions; that Nihilism & Solipsism beg further consideration. Most immediately though, I've been thinking about The Prisoner's Dilemma. Not the classic version, but rather the iterative & stranger thought experiments that have spun out of it. I like the elegence of the Prisoner's Dilemma once it is uncoupled from its strict constraints. I like when it starts blooming, starts showing the patterns of complexity. It has been directly on my mind since I watched a clip of the very finale of Bachelor Pad. Now, I don't know anything about that show, but in the following clip, the host lays out a pretty basic version of the Prisoner's Dilemma, & here is the hook: the audience & contestants lose their mind. I've taken it for granted, so seeing people presented with it for the first time is really refreshing, & more to the point, really interesting, because they haven't considered it before. They haven't taken it as a given that they must be prepared for the set-up. Anyhow, it is worth watching:
So Robert Axelrod (In The Evolution of Cooperation, which I confess I haven't read) lays out four descriptive conditions of strategies that do well at The Prisoner's Dilemma: they are Nice, which is to say it presupposes cooperation, unless there is reason not to; they are Retaliating, in that if the other player defects, they punish with their own defection; they are Forgiving, so that they can put aside relaliating & go back to cooperating when the other side starts cooperating; & they are Non-envious, which is to say they don't judge off of the "cheaters" points, but rather optimizing their own. Those are pretty decent evidence for the success of Ethics; then again, that is sort of the point of game theory. This is the sort of thing that makes me angry about state bailouts & light punishments for white collar crime; those are the defections we should be punishing. The whole point of government, if you ask me, can be reduced to "make cooperating the best option & defecting the worst option." Do it with the carrot & the stick, use every trick in the book. Anyhow; I think about the Dilemma a lot, so seeing it with fresh eyes was fun.