Game theory operates on a single critical premise. All players are inherently selfish. The rest of game theory hinges on this single assumption. As the Rand Corporation found out the hard way when they tested John Nash’s prisoner dilemma (aka. F**K You Buddy) all the receptionists and secretaries co-operated their way out of it with none going the backstabbing route of the dilemma’s alias.
If they’d also remembered, assuming they ever learned, Popov, Kuhn, and the other philosophers of science, those Rand Corporation people would realise that they were ‘filtering’ their theory through their own assumptions and expectations. What those people did afterwards sowed the seed that only hubris can fertilise to become a massive stolonic meme-weed that infects Western culture.
Rise of Selfishness
Most of us are about as selfish as we have to be; that is, not particularly. We sacrifice time, money and energy to help those we care about. As modern culture progressed we somehow learned, how is debatable, to care less about others. It was only a century ago that extended families lived in a single dwelling and worked there small parcel of land around it for fresh produce. They would share baby and child raising amongst those not “out in the field gathering protein” – which is what most of the workers were doing. Qv. making money to buy meat. This was still concordant with essentially tribal life. Extended family groups working together for survival.
As technology advanced the time required “out in the field gathering protein” was reduced and it became far easier to achieve. The idea that “you too can earn your own meat” spread among the young women whilst being schooled and they quickly entered “the field gathering protein”. Inherently there is nothing wrong with this and it is really no change in terms of entering “the field gathering protein”. What changed was the pressure to do so. It was now about control and not about necessity. As necessity changed so to did the pressure to have children since more children means more help for the family unit and increase the capability to survive of the whole tribe. The pressure to do that was suddenly gone and replaced with the pressure of “self-gratification” mostly steered towards “acquisition” which means time “out in the field gathering protein” was traded for “ooh shiny”. Of course the self-policing proto-consumer had to have something to assuage the hollowness that comes out of “ooh shiny” so this was subverted with “ooh new shiny”. KISS.
Selfishness is no Reward
Indulging the self works for only so long. It increases isolation as the limits of self-indulgence crossover to the taking of others free-agency. Devolution of self to the terrible twos, the “I want & I don’t care”, also known as the spoiled-brat or the psychopath. It is seen over and over in history as power increases to provide self-indulgence corruption of morals results and depravity is engaged to gain further self-indulgence in what used to be taboo activities. This selfishness is no reward because the activities must be escalated to fill what is essentially an infinite void.
The assumptions of those that put the game theory version of societal control into effect from think tank to corporate management to public service departments that now operate as profit-centres is what we have in our culture today. That is; he assumption of the isolated, selfish, consumer-person, that will do what ever it takes to gain advantage for self-indulgence. That premise is flawed just like those who put it in place. Flawed with academic hubris that comes from lack of empathy and experience. Usually from the very dysfunctions they attribute to those that must be controlled. Dostoyevsky’s transparent mirror of humanity.
The refutations I expect will mostly be in the following fallacious forms:
Appeal to authority (usually a request for references)
Ad hominem (attack against author instead of the idea)
Strawman (probably with an absurd reduction or polemic)