Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Playing Fair

Today in Journalism Ethics we did the ultimatum game. Ten dollars is on the table. One player delivers the ultimatum. The second listens. If the second accepts the ultimatum, both players win; that is, the ten dollars is divided according to the offer made by the first player. If the second player refuses, the game is over: Nobody gets anything.

I get six and Chloe gets four; she accepts that. I get eight and Chloe gets two, she won't. And thus nobody gets anything. Hauser says you can play this game in some local version the world over and -- although in some cultures "second" players will settle for less -- there is an innate sense of fairness in cultures the world over. At some point second players *refuse to be first player's bitch* even if that decision costs. Perhaps, as Hauser says, the intuitive sense that things should be fair is bred into our bones.

I think I have this straight. I like the ethics class. Sometimes I thinks I am leading them in circles, but perhaps we learn a little something new each time around.

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