Selfishness and the Ultimatum Game

Discussions of economic revolution and collective ownership are often frought with claims about ‘selfishness’. But this notion is not often defined in much detail. I think we can learn something about it by looking at ‘the ultimatum game’, an experimental set-up that psychologists have used (also by independent common-sense, which psychologists also use, though to a debatable extent).

The set-up is simple. You and I are given a tenner. I decide on a way to split it between us, and you either accept, and take what I offer you, or reject, in which case we both get nothing.

If we both desperately wanted money, I would give you 5p and take all the rest for myself, and you would accept that. But that’s not what happens. By and large, I propose something relatively even, most commonly 50/50, and you either accept if it’s even enough, or reject if it’s substantially unequal – even though this means you choose nothing over something.

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Capitalist Philosophy of Mind, Part 3 – Communist Philosophy of Mind?

If my last two posts were right in discerning the movements of concrete social forces – feudal religion and bourgeois science, at first individual, then systemic – behind changing currents of consensus in the philosophy of mind, what does this imply about philosophy of mind under different circumstances? And what does it mean for people actually working in that field?

It might be imagined that if first religion and then science created a certain philosophy based on a certain class society, a classless society will have neither religion nor science. But this is only half true. For both of these terms, as for many others, one must distinguish two things: a reasonable, inescapable and important element of the human condition, and then a narrow and distorted worldview based on misconstruing that element and requiring all other elements to be subordinate to it.

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