The Calculus of Selfishness:

The Calculus of Selfishness:

Karl Sigmund
Copyright Date: 2010
Pages: 192
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  • Book Info
    The Calculus of Selfishness:
    Book Description:

    How does cooperation emerge among selfish individuals? When do people share resources, punish those they consider unfair, and engage in joint enterprises? These questions fascinate philosophers, biologists, and economists alike, for the "invisible hand" that should turn selfish efforts into public benefit is not always at work.The Calculus of Selfishnesslooks at social dilemmas where cooperative motivations are subverted and self-interest becomes self-defeating. Karl Sigmund, a pioneer in evolutionary game theory, uses simple and well-known game theory models to examine the foundations of collective action and the effects of reciprocity and reputation.

    Focusing on some of the best-known social and economic experiments, including games such as the Prisoner's Dilemma, Trust, Ultimatum, Snowdrift, and Public Good, Sigmund explores the conditions leading to cooperative strategies. His approach is based on evolutionary game dynamics, applied to deterministic and probabilistic models of economic interactions.

    Exploring basic strategic interactions among individuals guided by self-interest and caught in social traps,The Calculus of Selfishnessanalyzes to what extent one key facet of human nature--selfishness--can lead to cooperation.

    eISBN: 978-1-4008-3225-5
    Subjects: Developmental & Cell Biology, Mathematics, Ecology & Evolutionary Biology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Preface
    (pp. vii-x)
  4. Chapter One Introduction: Social Traps and Simple Games
    (pp. 1-24)

    Aristotle classified humans as social animals, along with other species, such as ants and bees. Since then, countless authors have compared cities or states with bee hives and ant hills: for instance, Bernard de Mandeville, who published hisThe Fable of the Beesmore than three hundred years ago.

    Today, we know that the parallels between human communities and insect states do not reach very far. The amazing degree of cooperation found among social insects is essentially due to the strong family ties within ant hills or bee hives. Humans, by contrast, often collaborate with non-related partners.

    Cooperation among close...

  5. Chapter Two Game Dynamics and Social Learning
    (pp. 25-48)

    It can be difficult to decide what is best. The task can be fraught with uncertainties (as when an investor wants to optimize a portfolio), or it can be computationally demanding (as when a traveling salesman has to find the shortest route through 87 towns). A peculiar complication arises in interactions between two (or more) decision-makers with different views about what is best. This is the realm of game theory.

    As an example, consider two players I and II engaged in the following, admittedly childish game. At a given signal, each holds up one or two fingers. If the resulting...

  6. Chapter Three Direct Reciprocity: The Role of Repetition
    (pp. 49-81)

    As Darwin wrote, “The small strength and speed of man, his want of natural weapons, etc., are more than counterbalanced . . . by his social qualities which lead himto give and receiveaid from his fellow-men” (italics added). In its simplest form, to help means to confer a benefitbto another individual, at a costcto oneself. This can be viewed as an atom of social interaction.

    In theDonation game, two players have to decide simultaneously (more precisely, in ignorance of the co-player’s decision) whether to give help to their co-player or not. The two...

  7. Chapter Four Indirect Reciprocity: The Role of Reputation
    (pp. 82-103)

    In the previous chapter, we have investigated strategies for playing the Donation game repeatedly againstthe sameco-player. In this chapter, we assume that the same game is played repeatedly, but always againstanotherco-player. Third parties have to return the helpful action. This introduces major differences between direct and indirect reciprocation, as we shall presently see.

    TheTit for Tatstrategy, which played such a basic role in the previous chapter, discriminates according to the outcome of the previous round. In direct reciprocity, what happens to a player is caused by what the co-player does. But in the context...

  8. Chapter Five Fairness and Trust: The Power of Incentives
    (pp. 104-122)

    In the Ultimatum game (see section 1.11), two players are randomly assigned the role of Proposer and Responder. The experimenter then allocates a certain sum to the Proposer. The Proposer offers part of it to the Responder. If the Responder accepts, the sum is split accordingly, and the game is over. If the Responder declines, the whole sum returns to the experimenter, and again, the game is over: but now, both players receive nothing. It is important to stress that the two players know the rules in advance, and that they know that they will never meet again.

    We shall...

  9. Chapter Six Public Goods and Joint Efforts: Between Freedom and Enforcement
    (pp. 123-144)

    So far, we have considered pairwise interactions only. But many collaborative interactions take place in larger teams. This introduces new aspects. In particular, reciprocation becomes more difficult. If you interact repeatedly in a group, and if one of your co-players defects whereas another cooperates, with whom do you reciprocate?

    On the other hand, in groups of more than two, majorities can form, and this may facilitate the enforcement of collaboration. As W. D. Hamilton wrote in his essay onInnate Social Aptitudes of Man: “There may be reason to be glad that human life is a many-person game and not...

  10. Chapter Seven Cooperation in Structured Populations
    (pp. 145-154)

    Up to now, we have always assumed that populations are well-mixed: just as population genetics often postulatesrandom mating, so did we assumerandom meeting. It need hardly be stressed that this is often unrealistic. Human populations are, in general, highly structured, and individuals interact preferentially within their families, neighborhoods, or other types of groups and networks. Obviously, these structures play a major role in the evolution of cooperation.

    So far, we have concentrated exclusively on an analysis based on the strategic point of view, and totally neglected social networks, despite their obvious importance. In this last chapter, we briefly...

  11. References
    (pp. 155-168)
  12. Index
    (pp. 169-174)