>> [Axelrod] discovered >> that the best way to do that is often to play nice; that does >> nothing to support whether "playing nice" is or isn't a worthy >> goal in its own right.
You're making the further unstated assumption that the success of a population is good; i.e., you are defining moral worth as equivalent to success of the species. That's as good a desire as any, but there's certainly nothing more fundamentally "right" about success than any other human desire. There _is_ something unique about one goal that might make it a good premise on which to base ethical arguments: the continued existence of the ethical actor. Individual survival (of the entity exercising moral choice--whatever its physical form) is unique in that it is the only goal that is a necessary condition of all other possible goals. Taking it as a premise can lead to some useful conclusions, but alas, I don't think it is fruitful enough to produce ethical systems as complete as we want. Species survival might well be a richer source of ethical premises, but I'm not yet convinced that there's real value in it.
-- Lee Daniel Crocker <firstname.lastname@example.org> <http://www.piclab.com/lcrocker.html> "All inventions or works of authorship original to me, herein and past, are placed irrevocably in the public domain, and may be used or modified for any purpose, without permission, attribution, or notification."--LDC