Compliance: Maximization Constrained

David Gauthier

in Morals by Agreement

Published in print May 1987 | ISBN: 9780198249924
Published online November 2003 | e-ISBN: 9780191597497 | DOI:
Compliance: Maximization Constrained

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Justice requires that one act on a fair optimizing strategy when one can—that is, a strategy that will yield an outcome that (nearly) satisfies the standards set by minimax relative concession and optimality. We now address the problem raised by Hobbes's Foole—be it ever so rational to agree to minimax relative concession, is compliance with it rational, as opposed to directly maximizing one's own utility? We distinguish a straightforward maximizer, who is disposed always to maximize his own utility, from a constrained maximizer, who is disposed to refrain from utility maximization in favour of fair optimality, and show that persons with the latter disposition can expect to do better so long as there is a significant proportion of them in the population and reasonably able to identify one another and to avoid misidentifying straightforward maximizers. We argue that this shows the rationality both of constrained maximization as a disposition and of the choices constrained maximizers make. We claim that a population of constrained maximizers would be rationally stable, and compare this to Robert Trivers's claim that a population of reciprocal altruists would be genetically stable.

Keywords: compliance; Hobbes's Foole; maximizer; minimax; rationality; reciprocal altruist; strategy; utility maximization

Chapter.  13627 words. 

Subjects: Moral Philosophy

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