Re: SOCIOLOGY: Cooperation & Punishment

From: Kai Becker (
Date: Thu Jan 17 2002 - 11:09:37 MST

Am Freitag, 11. Januar 2002 15:02 schrieb Mike Lorrey:
> Kai Becker wrote:
> > Sure. No good service at your car repair shop? Shoot them! Nice idea,
> > indeed. Would also create many new jobs. Mike, your knee jerk reflex
> > appears to be more the product of a strongly biased perl script, than
> > the result of objective reasoning.
> Kai, your irrational leap to judgement while remaining blissfully
> ignorant of history appears to be more the product of a strongly biased
> perl script than the result of objective reasoning.

Okay, I have to change my hypothesis: it's more a variant of Eliza, tuned
for right-wing advocacy :-)

> Do you deny that the central thesis is true?

The thesis of Fehr and Gächter? No. But I doubt your unjustified
extrapolation that "punishment" has necessarily to be based on firearms
(although one of the papers of the authors mentions violent outbursts of US
drivers during the oil crisis 1979...[1]).

Reading the original articles will help a lot[2]. The "punishment" in the
experiment meant to impose a fine onto an uncooperative player, for which
the punisher himself had to pay a fee. Money, not bullets. I would
therefore suggest to think about organizations for consumer protection,
forums for "negative PR", consumer feedback and objective product tests in
the media, long before I'd think to introduce firearms into our everyday
shopping procedures - especially with the quote from [1] in mind.

The article in "Nature" also shows the negative sides of this mechanism:
"Gintis acknowledges the potential pitfalls of using local action to stamp
out social scrounging: it might fragment communities into opposing
factions, or breed resentment of nonconformists.
There are also problems if fear of punishment cultivates antisocial aims,
Fehr points out. "You see it in the Mafia," he says, where the threat of
reprisal maintains a code of silence."[3]


[1], p.4: "One motorist was shot
and killed for butting into line".



== Kai M. Becker == == Bremen, Germany ==
"Any technology distinguishable from magic is insufficiently advanced"

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