OmSigDAVID
 
  -1  
Reply Wed 5 May, 2010 07:59 am
@plainoldme,
plainoldme wrote:
Alright, same reference as above. Found the quote from David in the thread. It was the driver's side window. I agree with your assessment. If he hadn't been shot, he could have had glass fragments in his eye. The story is a fib. . .pure fabrication.
Plain, u really are exceptionally stupid. U reach a conclusion based on admitted speculation!!
U say "could have" -- just guessing as to what might have happened and then reaching an actual conclusion as to veracity.
In other words, YOUR premises ("could have") do not support your conclusion.
Apparently u are not intelligent enuf to see the logical defect in that.
NO WONDER u are a leftist! U can 't reason.

Do your students realize how stupid u are? Have u explained that to them?

Its no wonder that u can 't even make a paltry $20, 000 in a year.





David
0 Replies
 
plainoldme
 
  2  
Reply Wed 5 May, 2010 08:35 am
Skimming this thread, I caught the statement that carrying a gun is a "natural right." That immediately struck a false note with me. It is generally assumed that the gun was invented in China during the 13th C., that Adam did not have god-given firearms. Firearms do not grow on trees and little firearms buds do not grow on the hands of new borns. If guns are not natural, how can the possession of guns be a natural right?

So, I looked up natural rights and they are what I thought they were: natural rights (also called moral rights or inalienable rights) are rights which are not contingent upon the laws, customs, or beliefs of a particular society or polity (from Wiki).

How can the right to tote a gun be universal when man existed for millenia without them? When, at the rise of the 20th C., there were still unknown to the larger world, isolated societies in which there were no guns?

In fact, some philosophers would argue that there is no such thing as a natural right or natural law from which to derive such rights. Steeped as we, as Americans, are in the rhetorical flourishes of the Declaration of Independence, we do not question that natural rights exist.

Today, because I tripped upon this thread, I not only question that natural rights exist, I say that only such rights that derive from the social contract of each citizen with the state exist. (I also say that the overstatement of the Declaration was a political necessity . . . but that is another thread.)

When I returned to this forum at the end of winter, I was struck by how closely strict Constructionists resemble the hierarchy of the Roman Catholic Church. Strict Constructionists treat the Constitution as infallible.

Strict constructionists conveniently ignore the fact that even the strictest of constructions is still an interpretation.

However, the Catholic CHurch actually provides wiggle room when it comes to the doctrine of papal infallibility: the pope is only infallible when he speaks ex cathedra, that is from the throne on matters of . . .I believe . . . faith and morals. In a similar fashion, the FFs provided some wiggle room in the Constitution: it can be amended.

The recent history of the Church calls the doctrine of papal infallibility seriously into question. After all, what is the real difference between the cardinal who ignored and may have helped cover up charges of sexual abuse of minors and the pope now enthroned at the Vatican?

To question the Constitution in no way diminishes the fact that the FFs were an amazing group of men who accomplished a world altering event. However, despite their personal gifts and despite the size of their collective deed, these men were not infallible. They possessed none of the "divine right" to rule or ability to rule without error that they fought against.

(I could add that if a just god granted men free will, that same god would not allow them the exercise of any divine right as such a right would be a determinative factor . . . but that is for another time and place.)

Halfway through my alloted characters, I need to add that we, as a people, are in a bind in re: gun possession. Unhappily, it is something we are stuck with. To amend the Constitution to remove guns from the hands of the citizenry would create a similar situation created by Prohibition. Idiots who never toted would arm themselves, their children and their dogs simply because guns have become illegal.

We could chalk up the right to bear arms as a cultural artifact that has little to no relevance. In many ways it is. There are probably more people, by actual head count, who think that guns are evil or, at best, unnecessary. I think it was a mistake on the part of those gifted but human and fallible men who wrote the Constitution, just as the continuation of slavery was a mistake.

And, yes, I do know the sort of inane remarks that will be posted as a result of this discussion.
Thomas
 
  1  
Reply Wed 5 May, 2010 09:33 am
@plainoldme,
plainoldme wrote:
Skimming this thread, I caught the statement that carrying a gun is a "natural right." That immediately struck a false note with me. It is generally assumed that the gun was invented in China during the 13th C., that Adam did not have god-given firearms. Firearms do not grow on trees and little firearms buds do not grow on the hands of new borns. If guns are not natural, how can the possession of guns be a natural right?

Liberty, property and equal protection of the law don't grow on trees either. Nevertheless, we consider them natural rights. That's not what "natural" means in political philosophy. Rather, the term defined by social contract theory, and means that the right isn't conferred by government. It predates the formation of a government. In this sense, the right to bear arms, and to resist oppressive governments with those guns; has been "natural" since Hobbes (1660).

plainoldme wrote:
Today, because I tripped upon this thread, I not only question that natural rights exist, I say that only such rights that derive from the social contract of each citizen with the state exist.

Are you sure that's what you believe? I don't mean to trigger Godwin's law, but the Nazis' rise to power in Germany seems like a strong counterexample to what you say. Under the democratic constitution of the Weimar Republic, they attained a majority for a coalition government they led. Then, exploiting a terrorist attack on the Reichstag, Berlin's version of Washington's Capitol, they got the German parliament to suspend civil rights and the democratic process. After that, they used their dictatorial powers to ditch all parties, including the ones in their coalition, and proceeded to do all those bad Nazi things they did. I think we both agree that was bad. But where in the process did they break the social contract?

But even if I accept that there are no natural rights, only contractual rights under the social contracts, I don't see a substantial effect on the foundation of the right to hold and bear arms. The American constitution, the closest thing to the philosophers' "social contract" that America has in practice, contains a right of the people to hold and bear arms. Changing the constitution to abolish this right is easier than changing the laws of gravity, but not much easier.
plainoldme
 
  1  
Reply Wed 5 May, 2010 09:45 am
@Thomas,
I suggest you reread what I wrote.

The only time there is no government is when there are too few people to govern which may be the only time there is natural law. The concept of natural law is all too easily abused and makes no sense.

I am not alone in thinking that. Madison felt the same way.

Now, your citation of liberty, property and equal protection not growing on trees is not a logical parallel to my example of guns being wholly unnatural. Liberty and equal protection are abstractions and guns are physical things. An argument could be made that property is both.

When political philosophy is considered, Constitutions deal largely with abstractions while statutes tend to deal more with things. Guns are definitely things but liberty is not.

How is the Nazi's rise a counter example? The Nazis were, famously, democratically elected. That illustrates an example of a social contract. Your question, "But where in the process did they break the social contract?" is a non sequitur as I said nothing about breaking a social contract nor did I discuss the NAzis. You brought them up.

I feel the Second Amendment is an error but one that we are stuck with. As I said, reread what I wrote.
Thomas
 
  1  
Reply Wed 5 May, 2010 10:05 am
@Thomas,
Thomas wrote:
Liberty, property and equal protection of the law don't grow on trees either. Nevertheless, we consider them natural rights. That's not what "natural" means in political philosophy. Rather, the term defined by social contract theory, and means that the right isn't conferred by government. It predates the formation of a government. In this sense, the right to bear arms, and to resist oppressive governments with those guns; has been "natural" since Hobbes (1660).

That would be Hobbes (1651), not 1660. Here is the passage in chapter 13 of his Leviathan where he argues that a social contract is void if it requires you do surrender your inalienable right to resist violence with violence.

in 'Leviatan', Thomas Hobbes wrote:
A covenant not to defend myself from force, by force, is always void. For (as I have shown before) no man can transfer or lay down his right to save himself from death, wounds, and imprisonment, the avoiding whereof is the only end of laying down any right; and therefore the promise of not resisting force, in no covenant transferreth any right, nor is obliging.

Source

This passage is remarkable because Thomas Hobbes, compared to other social contract theorists, has little patience with the notion of natural rights. Under the government he envisions, you surrender almost all your rights to the government. For example, Hobbes recognizes no freedom of religion. Christianity is the established church of his state. He has no patience with the freedom of speech. If the government doesn't like what you say, it can censor you all it wants. And he doesn't even mention equal protection, or a right to privacy, or anything like that.

Against this background, Hobbes insistence that individuals do retain their right to armed self-defence is remarkable. If you don't like the right of the people to hold and bear arms, you will find little comfort in social contract theory.
0 Replies
 
Thomas
 
  1  
Reply Wed 5 May, 2010 10:07 am
@plainoldme,
plainoldme wrote:
Now, your citation of liberty, property and equal protection not growing on trees is not a logical parallel to my example of guns being wholly unnatural. Liberty and equal protection are abstractions and guns are physical things. An argument could be made that property is both.

Fair enough. Replace "guns" with "resisting force with force" then. There's your abstract concept.
0 Replies
 
Thomas
 
  1  
Reply Wed 5 May, 2010 10:13 am
@plainoldme,
plainoldme wrote:
How is the Nazi's rise a counter example?

They're a test case for your allegation that there are no natural rights; that all rights come from a social contract. Do you think that under the Nazi regime, the German government violated the human rights of Jews, Gypsies, homosexuals, communists, and so forth? If you do, you'll have to explain where those rights came from, since, as you say, the Nazis famously adhered to the letter of Germany's social contract. On the other hand, if you don't believe the Nazis violated human rights on a massive scale, your position is consistent. It just isn't shared by a lot of people.
0 Replies
 
joefromchicago
 
  1  
Reply Wed 5 May, 2010 10:28 am
@Thomas,
Thomas wrote:
plainoldme wrote:
Today, because I tripped upon this thread, I not only question that natural rights exist, I say that only such rights that derive from the social contract of each citizen with the state exist.

...
But even if I accept that there are no natural rights, only contractual rights under the social contracts, I don't see a substantial effect on the foundation of the right to hold and bear arms....

Talking about a "social contract" without talking about natural rights is missing the point, since the guys who came up with the notion of the "social contract" -- Hobbes, Locke, and Rousseau -- linked it to natural rights theory. After all, in the social contract, the people gave up some of their natural rights as part of the bargain. That was the consideration they paid for the contract. I don't understand the idea of a social contract without natural rights, unless it is in some Rawlsian sense of the people agreeing to a set of rights based on what they would agree to in an "original position."
Thomas
 
  1  
Reply Wed 5 May, 2010 12:44 pm
@joefromchicago,
joefromchicago wrote:
Talking about a "social contract" without talking about natural rights is missing the point, since the guys who came up with the notion of the "social contract" -- Hobbes, Locke, and Rousseau -- linked it to natural rights theory.

You'll need to take that up with Plainoldme, who made the distinction first. That said, I'm quite willing to go along with her idea that social contracts and natural rights can be separated in principle. Are you familiar with Robert Axelrod's game-theoretical experiments? The dominant strategies emerging in these experiments could meaningfully be called social contracts, even though they don't include any notion of natural rights.

More generally, the law-and-economics literature has extensively analyzed contracts in the light of game theory. The game starts when I offer you a contract with certain terms (or not). If I do offer it, you can then accept, reject, or make a counter-proposal with different terms. Once we have negotiated a contract and agreed on it, either of us can perform or default, rely on the other side performing or take precautions for it defaulting. If one side defaults, pre-agreed rules about remedies kick in, and so forth. And there are payoffs and costs for each of us associated with every choice each of us makes.

In this model, parties still end up having rights and being punished for violating them. But they get them only because the Nash equilibrium of their contract-game happens to be rights-friendly: Overall, people find it in their self-interest to offer deals to each other, accepting them, trying to perform, and trying to rely on performance. In this analysis, respecting one another's rights is merely part of performance. At no point does the outcome depend on the concept of rights being "natural".

I find it very plausible that social contracts can work like that, even if it's not how Hobbes, Locke, and Rousseau described them.
joefromchicago
 
  1  
Reply Wed 5 May, 2010 01:02 pm
@Thomas,
Thomas wrote:
You'll need to take that up with Plainoldme, who made the distinction first. That said, I'm quite willing to go along with her idea that social contracts and natural rights can be separated in principle. Are you familiar with Robert Axelrod's game-theoretical experiments? The dominant strategies emerging in these experiments could meaningfully be called social contracts, even though they don't include any notion of natural rights.

I am familiar with Axelrod's work, and own a copy of The Evolution of Cooperation, so I know that he didn't conduct any experiments himself. He's a political scientist, which means he steals collects all of his experimental findings from economists, sociologists, and psychologists. But I don't understand how a dominant strategy can be called a "social contract."

Thomas wrote:
More generally, the law-and-economics literature has extensively analyzed contracts in the light of game theory. The game starts when I offer you a contract (or not). If I do offer it, you can then accept or reject. Once we have a contract, either of us can perform or default, rely on the other side performing or take precautions on the other side defaulting. If one side defaults, pre-agreed rules about remedies kick in, and so forth. In this model, parties still up having rights and getting them enforced. But they get them because their behavior under their contracts produce a rights-friendly Nash equilibrium. At no point does this analysis depend on the concept of rights being "natural".

Well, that doesn't make much sense. It's true that parties to a contract have rights that flow from that contractual relationship, but they only have rights as against each other, not the rest of the world. Unless everyone is out there making bilateral contracts with everyone else, for your game-theoretic "social contract" to work there would have to be a real contract between all members of society -- which is something that even the social contract theorists regarded as more of a useful fiction than anything else.

Furthermore, one's contractual rights are not based on a Nash-equilibrium. One party, after all, may get royally screwed by a valid contract and still have to abide by its terms. A Nash-equilibrium solution might be optimal, but it wouldn't be necessary.
Thomas
 
  1  
Reply Wed 5 May, 2010 01:17 pm
@joefromchicago,
joefromchicago wrote:
Well, that doesn't make much sense. It's true that parties to a contract have rights that flow from that contractual relationship, but they only have rights as against each other, not the rest of the world. Unless everyone is out there making bilateral contracts with everyone else, for your game-theoretic "social contract" to work there would have to be a real contract between all members of society -- which is something that even the social contract theorists regarded as more of a useful fiction than anything else.

Individuals can save transaction cost by contracting with one another through a trusted intermediary. You will remember that that's Ronald Coase's theory of why most people work for firms rather than freelancing. Once you consider transaction costs as a (negative) payoff in the social game we are all playing with one another, it is perfectly obvious why the Nash equilibrium would contain governments, and why we would agree to be governed by them. The foundation of nations on social contracts is no more fictional than the foundation of companies on employment contracts.
0 Replies
 
Thomas
 
  1  
Reply Wed 5 May, 2010 01:32 pm
@joefromchicago,
joefromchicago wrote:
But I don't understand how a dominant strategy can be called a "social contract."

Take tit-for-tat, for example. I, being a tit-for-tat player, offer you cooperation by starting out cooperating with you. You, being a tit-for-tat player too, agree by cooperating back. From there on we both perform by cooperating, thereby gaining an advantage over other players.

Sure, it may not look much like a contract to you, because there is no lawyer drafting anything in this picture. But I think it's pretty well-accepted that this is not necessary to have a contract. You can offer and accept contracts merely by what German jurists call "conclusive behavior" (not sure what it's called in America).

For example, say you own a newspaper stand. I can offer you a contract by slapping a copy of the New York Times onto your counter; you can accept by opening your palm; then I perform by dropping three quarters into it, and you perform by letting me leave with the newspaper. There don't need to be any documents exchanged, or even any words said. Yet you and I would still have a real contract, not just a legal-fiction kind of contract.
joefromchicago
 
  1  
Reply Wed 5 May, 2010 03:53 pm
@Thomas,
Thomas wrote:

Individuals can save transaction cost by contracting with one another through a trusted intermediary. You will remember that that's Ronald Coase's theory of why most people work for firms rather than freelancing. Once you consider transaction costs as a (negative) payoff in the social game we are all playing with one another, it is perfectly obvious why the Nash equilibrium would contain governments, and why we would agree to be governed by them. The foundation of nations on social contracts is no more fictional than the foundation of companies on employment contracts.

I don't dispute that governments cut down on transaction costs. In game theoretic terms, governments are instituted among men primarily to control the "free-rider problem" and the "tragedy of the commons problem." On the other hand, I still don't understand why, even if government is chosen because it represents a Nash equilibrium point, that individual rights necessarily flow out of that. It's certainly possible to have a government where no one has any rights, even if it might be sub-optimal.

Thomas wrote:
joefromchicago wrote:
But I don't understand how a dominant strategy can be called a "social contract."

Take tit-for-tat, for example. I, being a tit-for-tat player, offer you cooperation by starting out cooperating with you. You, being a tit-for-tat player too, agree by cooperating back. From there on we both perform by cooperating, thereby gaining an advantage over other players.

Sure, it may not look much like a contract to you, because there is no lawyer drafting anything in this picture. But I think it's pretty well-accepted that this is not necessary to have a contract. You can offer and accept contracts merely by what German jurists call "conclusive behavior" (not sure what it's called in America).

Tit-for-tat is a strategy for competing in an open-ended, two-player game. But the players, even if they're involved in a cooperative relationship, aren't thereby engaged in a contractual relationship. Nor are they involved in a quasi-contractual relationship, where one is induced to perform by reliance on the actions of the other. Just because one player chooses cooperation doesn't mean the other is contractually required to choose cooperation as well, even though that's an optimal choice, nor could someone who follows a tit-for-tat strategy sue for breach of contract when his opponent (irrationally) switches from cooperation to punishment, even if the opponent had, by his earlier use of the same tit-for-tat strategy, induced him to resort to that strategy himself.

Thomas wrote:
For example, say you own a newspaper stand. I can offer you a contract by slapping a copy of the New York Times onto your counter; you can accept by opening your palm; then I perform by dropping three quarters into it, and you perform by letting me leave with the newspaper. There don't need to be any documents exchanged, or even any words said. Yet you and I would still have a real contract, not just a legal-fiction kind of contract.

I'm quite aware of that. But that still doesn't answer how a dominant strategy can become a "social contract."
Thomas
 
  1  
Reply Wed 5 May, 2010 04:21 pm
@joefromchicago,
joefromchicago wrote:
On the other hand, I still don't understand why, even if government is chosen because it represents a Nash equilibrium point, that individual rights necessarily flow out of that. It's certainly possible to have a government where no one has any rights, even if it might be sub-optimal.

They don't necessarily, and it wasn't my claim that they do. My claim was that you can distinguish the concept of natural rights from the concept of a social contract. When you object that you can have a social contract without having any rights under it, you only confirm this claim of mine.

joefromchicago wrote:
Tit-for-tat is a strategy for competing in an open-ended, two-player game. But the players, even if they're involved in a cooperative relationship, aren't thereby engaged in a contractual relationship.

Why not? What element of contract formation is missing that would be present in our wordless newspaper stand contract?

joefromchicago wrote:
Just because one player chooses cooperation doesn't mean the other is contractually required to choose cooperation as well,

And my tit-for-tat example didn't imply that it always did. If I initiate cooperation and you don't reciprocate, you have rejected the contract I offered, so of course there couldn't be any contractual obligations on you. But the case is different if, after (say) 50 rounds of mutual collaboration, you suddenly choose to obstruct. Then I think it's a reasonable interpretation of our behavior to say that we did have an implicit contract, which you breached. Moreover, my tit-for-tat reaction, which is to obstruct you on my 51st move, can then be reasonably interpreted as a contract remedy.
joefromchicago
 
  1  
Reply Thu 6 May, 2010 08:44 am
@Thomas,
Thomas wrote:
They don't necessarily, and it wasn't my claim that they do. My claim was that you can distinguish the concept of natural rights from the concept of a social contract. When you object that you can have a social contract without having any rights under it, you only confirm this claim of mine.

I didn't say that. I said that you can have a government without any individual rights. Saying that "government" and "the social contract" are the same thing is to beg the question.

Thomas wrote:
joefromchicago wrote:
Tit-for-tat is a strategy for competing in an open-ended, two-player game. But the players, even if they're involved in a cooperative relationship, aren't thereby engaged in a contractual relationship.

Why not? What element of contract formation is missing that would be present in our wordless newspaper stand contract?

The intention to form a contract or to induce reliance. Not every action that induces reliance is intended to induce reliance. Let's say you maintain a very dependable schedule, and you arrive home every day at precisely 5:30. A paid assassin has ascertained that fact, and now lies in wait for you to come home today at 5:30 so that he can kill you. You, however, were delayed on your way home when you stopped to rescue a kitten in a tree, and so you didn't get home until much later, by which time the assassin has given up and left. The next day you receive a summons -- the assassin is suing you for breach of contract because he relied on you to show up at the usual time, and when you didn't he lost out on a big contract on your life. Now, is the assassin right that you two had a contract?

I doubt that you'd agree that, just by engaging in a routine action that another had come to rely upon, you had thereby entered into a contract with that person. It's the same in games. Although the players may engage in strategies that induce reliance, there is no intent on the part of the players to induce reliance. Just because I play a tit-for-tat strategy consistently doesn't mean that I intend for you to reciprocate -- after all, tit-for-tat was shown to be superior to all other strategies, so a rational player would pursue tit-for-tat even if the other player did something else.

Thomas wrote:
joefromchicago wrote:
Just because one player chooses cooperation doesn't mean the other is contractually required to choose cooperation as well,

And my tit-for-tat example didn't imply that it always did. If I initiate cooperation and you don't reciprocate, you have rejected the contract I offered, so of course there couldn't be any contractual obligations on you. But the case is different if, after (say) 50 rounds of mutual collaboration, you suddenly choose to obstruct. Then I think it's a reasonable interpretation of our behavior to say that we did have an implicit contract, which you breached. Moreover, my tit-for-tat reaction, which is to obstruct you on my 51st move, can then be reasonably interpreted as a contract remedy.

Uh, no. If a player chooses not to reciprocate his opponent's "offer" of tit-for-tat, that's not a rejection of a contract. If I offer to sell you something, you can either accept the offer, reject it, or propose a counteroffer. The players in a game, on the other hand, are required to play, so they have to do something. If the players are only allowed one of two moves (C or D), and the tit-for-tat player plays C and his opponent plays D, that's not an offer-and-rejection, that is simply two moves in a game. The offer really came when the players decided to play the game in the first place -- that was the last time they had the option of rejecting an offer. Once they were in the game, however, they no longer had that choice.

More importantly, the notion of "punishment" is not restricted to the sphere of contracts. If Player T plays C, hoping to induce Player X into reciprocating with C, but Player X instead plays D (and thus sticking Player T with the "sucker's payoff"), and Player T then plays D the next round to "punish" Player X, that's not an exercise of a contractual remedy, that's simply punishment. If I refuse to do a favor for someone who has received favors in the past but has not reciprocated, that's not because that person has broken a contract with me, that's because I want to punish him for his ingratitude. That clearly is an extra-contractual remedy.
Thomas
 
  1  
Reply Thu 6 May, 2010 10:34 am
@joefromchicago,
joefromchicago wrote:
I didn't say that. I said that you can have a government without any individual rights. Saying that "government" and "the social contract" are the same thing is to beg the question.

How so? Or in other words, what was the question again?

joefromchicago" wrote:
Now, is the assassin right that you two had a contract?

No, for two reasons: (1) I never received any consideration from the assassin, and (2) a contract that involves killing me would be void for being against public policy. (Though I'm sure Joe Lieberman is working to change that.) This differs from the cooperative tit-for-tat equilibrium in that your cooperative conduct would (1) work out as consideration for me, and (2) not involve assassinating me.

joefromchicago wrote:
Just because I play a tit-for-tat strategy consistently doesn't mean that I intend for you to reciprocate -- after all, tit-for-tat was shown to be superior to all other strategies, so a rational player would pursue tit-for-tat even if the other player did something else.

Yes you do intend for me to reciprocate -- because reciprocity is what makes tit-for-tat the superior strategy for you.

joefromchicago wrote:
Uh, no. If a player chooses not to reciprocate his opponent's "offer" of tit-for-tat, that's not a rejection of a contract. If I offer to sell you something, you can either accept the offer, reject it, or propose a counteroffer. The players in a game, on the other hand, are required to play, so they have to do something.

That's an artefact of Axelrod's particular version of the game. I'm sure you could set up a modified version, offering players to choose the quasi-move, "don't do anything now", with a payoff of zero for both parties. But I doubt that would change the dynamics much.

joefromchicago wrote:
. If Player T plays C, hoping to induce Player X into reciprocating with C, but Player X instead plays D (and thus sticking Player T with the "sucker's payoff"), and Player T then plays D the next round to "punish" Player X, that's not an exercise of a contractual remedy, that's simply punishment.

Sure! If we assume player T's move C was his first move toward X, and player X plays D, then T and X don't have a contract, so contract law cannot possibly apply. I already said this. But if players T and X have already exchanged 50 rounds of reciprocal cooperation, you have everything a contracts needs. You have an offer, you have acceptance, performance, consideration, and everything. Now if you play D in your 51st move and I reciprocate with D in mine, it's a contract remedy.
Thomas
 
  1  
Reply Thu 6 May, 2010 11:13 am
@Thomas,
Thomas wrote:
joefromchicago wrote:
Just because I play a tit-for-tat strategy consistently doesn't mean that I intend for you to reciprocate -- after all, tit-for-tat was shown to be superior to all other strategies, so a rational player would pursue tit-for-tat even if the other player did something else.

Yes you do intend for me to reciprocate -- because reciprocity is what makes tit-for-tat the superior strategy for you.

To rephrase, hopefully in clearer language: You don't intend for me to reciprocate by being a tit-for-tatter myself. But you do intend for me to reciprocate the cooperation you initiated under your own tit-for-tat strategy. Remember, as a tit-for-tatter, you'll never "win against" other players. You'll lose against the greedy ones (but only once), and you'll prosper with cooperative players (but no more than they do). The reciprocity with all cooperative players is what makes tit-for-tat the superior strategy for you -- no matter what particular strategy causes them to cooperate back.
joefromchicago
 
  1  
Reply Thu 6 May, 2010 11:58 am
@Thomas,
Thomas wrote:

How so? Or in other words, what was the question again?

I'm sure it doesn't matter anymore.

Thomas wrote:
No, for two reasons: (1) I never received any consideration from the assassin, and (2) a contract that involves killing me would be void for being against public policy. (Though I'm sure Joe Lieberman is working to change that.) This differs from the cooperative tit-for-tat equilibrium in that your cooperative conduct would (1) work out as consideration for me, and (2) not involve assassinating me.

(1) Of course you didn't receive any consideration, but then neither do the players in an iterated prisoner's dilemma game either. That's why both of those situations involve quasi-contract, where the only requirements are: (a) the defendant intends to induce reliance; (b) the plaintiff reasonably relies thereon; and (c) the plaintiff suffers damages. In my assassination hypothetical, the problem isn't that there's no consideration, but that you didn't intend to induce reliance.
(2) That's just a public policy issue, not something that goes to the nature of contracts.

Thomas wrote:
Yes you do intend for me to reciprocate -- because reciprocity is what makes tit-for-tat the superior strategy for you.

Nope. Like I said, tit-for-tat is superior to all other strategies. It works whether the opponent reciprocates or not.

Thomas wrote:
That's an artefact of Axelrod's particular version of the game. I'm sure you could set up a modified version, offering players to choose the quasi-move, "don't do anything now", with a payoff of zero for both parties. But I doubt that would change the dynamics much.

Actually, it would change the dynamics quite a bit, since it would change the payoff structure.

Thomas wrote:
Sure! If we assume player T's move C was his first move toward X, and player X plays D, then T and X don't have a contract, so contract law cannot possibly apply. I already said this.

You do realize that all of these moves are simultaneous rather than sequential, don't you?

Thomas wrote:
But if players T and X have already exchanged 50 rounds of reciprocal cooperation, you have everything a contracts needs. You have an offer, you have acceptance, performance, consideration, and everything. Now if you play D in your 51st move and I reciprocate with D in mine, it's a contract remedy.

No, you have none of the elements of a contract. There is absolutely no consideration flowing, in either direction. Nothing of value changes hands.

There's no offer -- if Player T chooses C in the hopes that Player X will also choose C, that's not the same thing as Player T saying "I propose that we enter into a contract, whereby we both choose C from now on." After all, there's no way to distinguish the player who has chosen a tit-for-tat strategy from one who has chosen an entirely random strategy, except on repeated iterations of the game. If my opponent initially plays C, therefore, it could be that it's the start of a tit-for-tat strategy, or it could be a purely random, flip-of-the-coin choice of C (and remember, in Axelrod's games, many of the players were computer programs that were, of course, incapable of making contracts). If your offer can't be distinguished from something random, then it doesn't really constitute an offer.

Likewise, Player T may be offering a contract to play tit-for-tat, while Player X is playing a consistent "always choose C" strategy. As the two continue to play, and both continue to choose C, Player T may be confident that they're both playing his strategy while Player X is equally confident that Player T accepted an offer to play his strategy. There would be no way to tell. This means there's no genuine meeting of the minds -- something like two parties who contract for shipping goods on the Peerless, but both of them thinking of different ships.

Thomas wrote:
To rephrase, hopefully in clearer language: You don't intend for me to reciprocate by being a tit-for-tatter myself. But you do intend for me to reciprocate the cooperation you initiated under your own tit-for-tat strategy. Remember, as a tit-for-tatter, you'll never "win against" other players. You'll lose against the greedy ones (but only once), and you'll prosper with cooperative players (but no more than they do). The reciprocity with all cooperative players is what makes tit-for-tat the superior strategy for you -- no matter what particular strategy causes them to cooperate back.

But none of that really matters. Player T does not intend to induce reliance by adopting a tit-for-tat strategy. At best, he hopes to induce reliance. But there's nothing that he can do, outside of the structure of the game itself, to punish someone who doesn't cooperate. And that's the important point that you seem to be ignoring: cooperation isn't the same thing as agreement. People cooperate all the time without becoming contractually obligated to cooperate.
0 Replies
 
plainoldme
 
  1  
Reply Thu 6 May, 2010 09:46 pm
I just don't think that other than the laws of physics that there are natural laws. What is a natural law? The Golden Rule? The Ten Commandments? Weren't they written by men? I seem to remember it having been said that as soon as there were two people, there was law.
0 Replies
 
maporsche
 
  1  
Reply Sun 9 May, 2010 11:24 am
@Cycloptichorn,
Cycloptichorn wrote:
Interesting that as the driver, you had your window closed but the other open for ventilation. This is the opposite of what most people would do in the car.


That may be the opposite of what most people would do. But it is also something that I do. I don't like the sound of wind passing by my ears while driving. I'll frequently drive around with the back and passenger windows open and the drivers window's closed. Or with just the back windows open. Or with just the passenger window open. The drivers window is the last window I open in my car, and usually I'll turn on the AC rather than open that window.

I specifically traded in my last car for one with automatic windows, specifically for this reason.


Sorry for taking this off topic; I just found it interesting that you posted this and it was something I thought about very recently.
 

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