Journal Article

Modelling Reciprocal Altruism

Christopher Stephens

in The British Journal for the Philosophy of Science

Published on behalf of British Society for the Philosophy of Science

Volume 47, issue 4, pages 533-551
Published in print December 1996 | ISSN: 0007-0882
e-ISSN: 1464-3537 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/bjps/47.4.533
Modelling Reciprocal Altruism

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Biologists rely extensively on the iterated Prisoner's Dilemma game to model reciprocal altruism. After examining the informal conditions necessary for reciprocal altruism, I argue that formal games besides the standard iterated Prisoner's Dilemma meet these conditions. One alternate representation, the modified Prisoner's Dilemma game, removes a standard but unnecessary condition; the other game is what I call a Cook's Dilemma. We should explore these new models of reciprocal altruism because they predict different stability characteristics for various strategies; for instance, I show that strategies such as Tit-for-Tat have different stability dynamics in these alternate models.

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Subjects: Philosophy of Science ; Science and Mathematics

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