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  June 7, 2012                  
Philosophy: On human society and human cooperation

It is in justice that the ordering of society is centered.


I am still having problems with my eyes and am engaged on some other things, but then I used the opening quote yesterday as well, and realized  I have something relevant to say about that idea, that in fact is capable of explaining rather a lot about human society, in a general and somewhat formal form, namely the lemma on cooperation in my Philosophical Dictionary.

Here it is, and I am make no apologies for the formalities, and there are some explanations of logical terms, also
in my Philosophical Dictionary. But I provide English renderings of all formulas, and the real ideas are in these and not in the formulas.

Also note that the following explains in general terms not only economical cooperation - buying and selling of goods and services, or indeed barter - but also many other kinds of voluntary cooperation, and that all of it in the end depend on the personal values of the persons cooperating - on which there is a little more in the endnote.

Cooperation: Working together.

In human groups and societies the basis and condition for their continued existence. It requires agreements, mutual tolerance, making and keeping promises and peaceful conditions.

1.   Here is a brief and somewhat formal explanation of social cooperation and agreement, where I presume the logic of propositional attitudes, and some logical facility in the reader, though I will explain the formula I use:

Conscious social cooperation involves the following, with

"aCFa" = "person a tries to cause the fact that a has
              property F"
"aDFa" = "person a desires the fact that a has property F"
"aKFa" = "person a knows the fact that a has property F"

First, there is a simple definition of cooperation, taken as involving two persons and their actions, and thus a four-place relation:

(1) CP(a,b,Fa,Gb) =def aCFa iff bCGb 
     Cooperation: a and b cooperate concerning Fa and Gb

which is to say that a tries to bring about Fa if and only if b tries to bring about Gb. Next, cooperation requires

(2) A(a,b,Fa,Gb) =def aDCP(a,b,Fa,Gb) & bDCP(a,b,Fa,Gb)
    Agreement: Both desire the cooperation mentioned in (1)

which is to say a and b cooperate only if both a and b desire to cooperate, and for this again they need to both know the agreement

(3) KAC(a,b,Fa,Gb) =def aKA(a,b,Fa,Gb) & bKA(a,b,Fa,Gb) -
     Knowledge of Agreement to Cooperate

which is to say that a and b both know that both desire to cooperate.

And now one can state when the successful social cooperation of a and b has taken place:

(4) KAC(a,b,Fa,Gb) & aCFa & bCGb & Fa & Gb -
     Successful social cooperation of a and b about
     Fa and Gb

Successful social cooperation of a and b about Fa and Gb amounts for a and b to have knowledge of their agreement to cooperate and for both to have done their agreed parts successfully, which will bring to a whatever good was produced by Gb and will bring to b whatever good was produced by Fa.

Next, it is relevant to note the following supposed truth about agreements, as a sort of minimal condition for their fairness, and as explanation for the mutual willingness to cooperate:

(5) A(a,b,Fa,Gb) --> v(a,aCFa) <= v(a,bCGb) &
                             v(b,bCGb) <= v(b,aCFa)

which is to say that in a minimal fair agreement to cooperate, the persons involved like to exchange because each likes what the other can offer more than what he can offer to the other in exchange.

Note that (5) can be derived from a presumption like this about both a and b, here only formulated for a, and using "v(a,q)" = "the value of q for a":

(6) aDC(a,b,Fa,Gb) --> v(a,aCFa) <= v(a,bCGb)

which is to say that a desires to cooperate only if a believes a will get at least as good as he gives.

It is noteworthy that none of the above requires money or a market in any sense, for all that need be involved are the value-assessments of the parties involved, that should make for the agreement stated by (5).

And it is also noteworthy that there are, between humans, very many ordinary social transactions that conform to the above, and that amount the exchanges of kindnesses, mutual help, barter, friendliness, politeness  etcetera, for most of the voluntary cooperation between humans conforms to the above, and needs nothing else, since if the conditions are met, both parties involved by their own values profit from the transaction (or at least don't loose by it).

However, it is true that the above may lead to situations that, at least after the fact of exchange, may be considered quite unfair - for example, as the Indians may have soon found after bartering away Manhattan for a handful of trinkets to the Dutch that they were deceived, and could have received much more than they got out of this nation of sly and dishonest traders.

One can take care of this difficulty in various ways, and I will here do it as follows:

(7) v($,Fa) sim v($,Gb) =d

which is to say that I suppose acts and commodities in a society $ have a social value that is similar if and only if everybody in the society knows that they probably can find someone in the society to make a fair exchange with the goods or acts involved.

And now one can define

(8) FA(a,b,Fa,Gb) = d A(a,b,Fa,Gb) &
                              aK(v($,Fa) sim v($,Gb)) &
                              bK(v($,Fa) sim v($,Gb))

which is to say that a fair agreement amounts to getting a fair deal for a fair price, where the deal is fair because both parties agree they are willing to exchange, and the price is fair because both parties know they could get a similar deal elsewhere in the society, if they tried.

Note though that it is still not necessary to use money, and that again there are many transactions between humans in a society that are fair agreements as defined, whether or not they involve money.

See also: Agreement, Group, Society

Endnote: I said above that I would say a little more about
voluntary cooperation as defined, notably about it all depending in the end on the personal values of the persons cooperating, viz. that you and I can cooperate if I have something you want and you have something I want, and I want what you have more than what I have to offer in exchange, and you want what I have more than what you have to offer in exchange. If so, we can exchange, and we will be both the better for it in terms of our personal values and relevant knowledge (then and there).

This may in be unfair in various senses, usually through some assymetry in information or in power between the two partners in the cooperation. But it is interesting that were these assymetries do not exist or are small, voluntary cooperation works because both partners in the cooperation gain by it in terms of their personal values.


Corrections, if any are necessary, have to be made later.


As to ME/CFS (that I prefer to call ME):

1.  Anthony Komaroff Ten discoveries about the biology of CFS (pdf)
3.  Hillary Johnson The Why
4.  Consensus of M.D.s Canadian Consensus Government Report on ME (pdf)
5.  Eleanor Stein Clinical Guidelines for Psychiatrists (pdf)
6.  William Clifford The Ethics of Belief
7.  Paul Lutus

Is Psychology a Science?

8.  Malcolm Hooper Magical Medicine (pdf)
 Maarten Maartensz
ME in Amsterdam - surviving in Amsterdam with ME (Dutch)
 Maarten Maartensz Myalgic Encephalomyelitis

Short descriptions of the above:                

1. Ten reasons why ME/CFS is a real disease by a professor of medicine of Harvard.
2. Long essay by a professor emeritus of medical chemistry about maltreatment of ME.
3. Explanation of what's happening around ME by an investigative journalist.
4. Report to Canadian Government on ME, by many medical experts.
5. Advice to psychiatrist by a psychiatrist who understa, but nds ME is an organic disease
6. English mathematical genius on one's responsibilities in the matter of one's beliefs:

7. A  space- and computer-scientist takes a look at psychology.
8. Malcolm Hooper puts things together status 2010.
9. I tell my story of surviving (so far) in Amsterdam/ with ME.
10. The directory on my site about ME.

See also: ME -Documentation and ME - Resources
The last has many files, all on my site to keep them accessible.

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