Re: Game theory and morality

From: micah glasser (
Date: Fri Apr 28 2006 - 13:19:31 MDT

Have either of you read Robert Wright's "Non Zero: The Logic of Human
Destiny"? This book explores the evolution of human societies from a game
theory informed perspective. The book does not venture far into the
mathematics of game theory but it is a superbly reasoned and written book
nonetheless. I highly recommend it.

On 4/26/06, Jef Allbright <> wrote:
> On 4/26/06, Mikko Särelä <> wrote:
> > I assume you are familiar with game theory from the way you write. Have
> > you read the things that exist in the intersection of morality and game
> > theory, such as David Gauthier? The following link might provide some
> > useful stuff for you.
> >
> >
> Thanks! I hadn't seen this before. Appears very relevant.
> My introduction to game theory was about 1983 with an article in
> Scientific American on the Prisoners' Dilemma. I don't remember
> whether that was the article written by Douglas Hofstader, [Google
> confirms it is.] but I was already a huge fan of his upon reading
> Godel Escher Bach in 1979. Since then I've read extensively work by
> Axelrod, some work by Von Neuman and some commentary by Bertrand
> Russel, and various updates on PD competitions with strategies that
> surpass the original tit for tat by enlarging the scope.
> The 1983 Sci Am article really set me to thinking about how apparently
> rational strategies can easily be seen to be irrational in a larger
> context, and it was about then that I came to the realization that all
> paradox is a matter of insufficient context, given my belief (and
> observation) that in the bigger picture all the pieces must fit.
> I highly value Hofstadter's concept of "superrationality" but have
> found little resonance with others on this point.
> > Some other things that might be of interest include Karl Popper and then
> > David Deutsch. If you haven't read the latter's Fabric of Reality, you
> > might find it interesting. It probably doesn't contain a lot of new
> stuff
> > for you, but it does put things together in a fresh and interesting way.
> I'm quite familiar with Popper's work, but only went as far with
> Deutch as to read others' comments and discussions of his book _Fabric
> of Reality_. I'll reconsider taking a deeper look at it.
> > I've been working through a lot of game theory and morality stuff in my
> > past and have found that an approach that is very good for understanding
> > things.
> >
> > As you might know, there are people who believe that moral systems
> > cannot be distinguished, because value propositions are claimed to be
> such
> > that no natural thing that happens can justify, or refute them. This
> > actually does not hold, if we require a moral system to describe both
> > values (goals) and the means to get there.
> Or, if we consider how we got here with the morals that we have.
> > One of the simple rules that David once suggested for determining
> goodness
> > of such a moral system is to determine whether it succeeds by its own
> > lights, i.e. do the means accomplish the ends that the moral system
> > advocates. Note that this is a necessary, but not sufficient condition
> for
> > a good moral system. We should be able to develop other good ways of
> > critisizing moral systems and thus evolve our knowledge.
> Yes, that it works is necessary, but not sufficient.
> Thanks Mikko for your pointers on this.
> - Jef

I swear upon the alter of God, eternal hostility to every form of tyranny
over the mind of man. - Thomas Jefferson

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