Re: Ethics

Joe Jenkins (
Wed, 15 Jul 1998 20:55:40 -0700 (PDT)

Daniel Fabulich wrote:

>Anyway, this game is especially obvious in the version I originally
>posted, the situation under which the prisoners, though known to each
>other, will never play again. In that case egoism absolutely demands
>both players defect; despite the fact that it results in suboptimal

We agree that the best known strategy in both egoism and utilitarianism is tit for tat in iterated Prisoner's Dilemma. These are both "nice" strategies. Not the nicest possible, but pretty high up there. Now, when we switch to non-iterated Prisoner's Dilemma you contend that Mr. Ulitarian becomes the nicest of saints (always cooperate) and Mr. Egoist becomes the meanest of devils (always defect). I am now hallucinating major red flags being raised all around me. I tend to put egoism in a category close to greed and it's been my experience that greed is compatible with utiltarianism. No, I wasn't infected by Aristotle's virus, but a certain David Freeman managed to pass a couple of infections that whizzed right by my immune system. It is my suspicion that Mr. Egoist and Mr.Ulitarian may not be ready to concede to such simple strategies after returning from the drawing board.
Maybe the strategies for non-iterated Prisoner's Dilemma need to be much more complex than iterated Prisoner's Dilemma. Iterated Prisoner's Dilemma allows simple strategies to find an Evolutionarily Stable System because they don't all find themselves quickly defecting on every move. For non-iterated Prisoner's Dilemma, we need to be more witty. Let me propose an example strategy: Our participant carries a psuedo-random number generator and starts the game cooperating 50% and defecting 50%. Every 10 iterations, the population is analyzed for percentage of defectors and our original 50/50 split is adjusted appropriately to match the population. If anyone knows about the existence of or is inclined to write this simple program, I would be interested to play some games with this and some other strategies I have in mind.

Joe Jenkins

Get your free address at