"Living a fully ethical life involves doing the most good we can." - Peter Singer
"Common sense is not so common." - Voltaire
“There are two ways to be fooled. One is to believe what isn't true; the other is to refuse to believe what is true.” ― Søren Kierkegaard

Friday, January 29, 2016

Reputation, a universal currency for human social interactions

Manfred Milinski
Philosophical Transactions B
Published 4 January 2016.
DOI: 10.1098/rstb.2015.0100

Abstract

Decision rules of reciprocity include ‘I help those who helped me’ (direct reciprocity) and ‘I help those who have helped others’ (indirect reciprocity), i.e. I help those who have a reputation to care for others. A person's reputation is a score that members of a social group update whenever they see the person interacting or hear at best multiple gossip about the person's social interactions. Reputation is the current standing the person has gained from previous investments or refusal of investments in helping others. Is he a good guy, can I trust him or should I better avoid him as a social partner? A good reputation pays off by attracting help from others, even from strangers or members from another group, if the recipient's reputation is known. Any costly investment in others, i.e. direct help, donations to charity, investment in averting climate change, etc. increases a person's reputation. I shall argue and illustrate with examples that a person's known reputation functions like money that can be used whenever the person needs help. Whenever possible I will present tests of predictions of evolutionary theory, i.e. fitness maximizing strategies, mostly by economic experiments with humans.

The article is here.
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