Re: Dog Eat Dog LO2096

Michael McMaster (
Thu, 13 Jul 1995 22:31:54 +0000

Replying to LO2064 --

Robert Axelrod (The Evolution of Competition) now talks about the
conditions where "destructive competition" makes sense and will work.
These are conditions where there is no known relationship of the
present to the future.

However, in human affairs, there is some known connection in any
"long run" and then co-operation as the primary strategy will win
out. He refers to this phenomenon with the happy phrase "the shadow
of the future".

Things like reputation, reliability, predictability, integrity count
when others can observe your actions and can expect to deal with you
in the future.

One of the very interesting features of the computer simulations of
complex adaptive systems (using things like genetic algorithms) is
that there need be no mind, no consciousness, no moral awareness for
the results of what we call cooperation to become the winning
strategy. Mindless rule creation will end up with the same strategy
as moral action and as all of the theories we make up as long as
there is a "shadow of the future" operating.

What do you think about that?

> Date: Wed, 12 Jul 1995 16:36:55 -0400
> From:
> Pete:
> You wrote in part:
> >>>>The life expectancy of sharks, big dogs, whatever you choose to call
> them, is short--a factor overlooked by many businesses. Eventually
> the supply of victims begins to diminish and, because one's list of
> enemies continues to grow, one's opponents grow wise and more wiley,
> the supply of ready victims wanes, the strategy eventually collapses
> on itself leaving in its wake a devasted workforce and sacrificing
> a more profitable market position. <<<<
> I really appreciated your comments that sharks have a limited life
> expectancy because their dog eat dog strategy to besting the competition
> is only successful in the short run and for various reasons cannot sustain
> itself for the long haul.
> I suppose we could look at it from a system's perspective and observe that
> systems either dissipate or evolve or sometimes for awhile maintain a
> dysfunctional homeostasis as long as things don't get too bad, or no
> better competition comes along, or it is not a monopoly or some artificial
> means support the dysfunction as in a civil service system.
> Is your view that only healthy systems then will survive and evolve?

Michael McMaster