I. Discussion Question for Monday, Feb. 9.
On Monday, we will play a
fictional n-person PD supergame. Each member of the class will
play the role of a farmer in a small farming community with no
government institutions. It will be common knowledge that there
is a potentially indefinite series of public projects that would
further the public good (e.g., dikes, roads, pest control, etc.).
For convenience, we suppose that the individual benefit to each
farmer from any individual project is 2; and that the total cost
of any individual project is n; so that the cost of any project
to each contributor depends on the number of contributors m, and
equals n/m. Note that if less than half of the farmers contribute
in any particular subgame, those who contribute suffer a net loss
and those who do not contribute have a gain of 2. If more than
half of the farmers contribute in any particular subgame, both
the contributors and the non-contributors will be better off than
if none had contributed, though the non-contributors will do better
than the contributors. (Thus, Schelling's k = [(n/2) + 1].)
Come to class prepared to discuss which strategy you (as one of
the farmers) would adopt for the supergame. For example, there
are the unconditional strategies C- and D-; and there is a family
of conditionally cooperative strategies Bi = Cooperate
on the first subgame; in each succeeding subgame, cooperate if
at least i other players cooperated in the preceding subgame,
otherwise defect. (Note that because i refers to the number of
other cooperators, it can be any number from 0 to (n-1).)
You are not limited to these strategies. You are free to devise
one of your own. Come to class with a strategy that you want
to begin with. You are not required to stick with your initial
strategy. You will be given an opportunity to change your strategy
after you find out what strategies the other players favor.
II. Homework Assignment
#5, Due in Class on Wed., Feb. 11:
1. (a) On pages 119-120
[Reader pp. 78-79], Elster argues that some sanctions must be
performed for motives other than the fear of being sanctioned.
He expresses his conclusion by saying that chains of sanctions
require an unmoved mover. What does he mean by these claims?
2. What are the empirical
premises of his argument for the claims stated above?
3. Are the empirical premises
always true for human groups? To help answer this question, consider
the following example: Suppose that a group, P (for "patriots")
regards another group E (no member of P is also a member of E)
as its enemy. The members of P could define "traitor"
inductively as follows: First, a level-1 traitor is any member
of P (the patriots) who does business with or provides aid to
a member of E; a level-2 traitor is any member of P who does business
with or provides aid to a level-1 traitor; etc. Suppose that
there is full information, so that all traitorous acts of every
level are known by all. Explain why Elster's assumptions would
imply that there is some relatively low number n, such that patriots
would not be motivated to sanction traitors of level-n or above.
Is this necessarily true? If your answer is negative, explain
how one or more of Elster's empirical assumptions might fail to
hold in this sort of case. If your answer is affirmative, explain
why the patriots would not be motivated to sanction traitors of
level-n or above, even when something that the members of P value
very highly (e.g., their liberty or their survival as a group)
depends on defeating the enemy E.