|work participation||<– Date –> <– Thread –>|
|From: don i arkin (shardon5juno.com)|
|Date: Tue, 15 Jul 2003 11:09:02 -0600 (MDT)|
Hi, I am going to try to look at the idea of accountability from the point of view that perhaps the people who are opposed to accountability are actually acting against their own ultimate goals. Of course to begin, I will have to take the exceedingly risky step of interpreting what those ultimate goals are, but we will see if I can approximate them by assuming that they are the same as my own. First let me give a definition of "cooperative" specific to this discussion. A person is acting cooperatively if they do something in the anticipation that other people will do certain other things or because some things have already been done. Ultimate goals: We want to be part of a community with a minimum of coercion and a maximum of free choice where all tasks judged important by the community are accomplished when needed. . If this is what we want, how best to accomplish it. One way is to hire all this important stuff out and pay for it out of HOA dues. Interestingly enough I haven't seen any suggestions that HOA dues payments be voluntary. Sliding scale payments to compensate for economic difficulties are an entirely different subject. However most cohousing communities choose to do a large part of the work through some sort of quasi-voluntary basis. From reading the list-serve we learn that this has led to less than satisfactory results. Why is this? Cohousing communities surely have a higher percentage of motivated and idealistic people than the general population, particularly high for characteristics relating to cooperative endeavors, so what is going wrong? I fear the answer is that the ideals are not taking into account some essential parts of human nature. I don't believe that this means that these ideals are impossible to achieve, just that the means to achieve them need to be adjusted as I explain below. First a caveat on the "essential parts of human nature" I alluded to above. I will be attempting an extremely brief distillation of decades and libraries worth of research on evolution and social psychology. If anyone is interested I can offer suggestions for reading. This research is of course ongoing and quite controversial so that anyone who doesn't like my conclusions can feel confident that they are not alone. To begin, almost everybody will agree that some part of human behavior is inherited, after all newborn babies are all different. It should also not be controversial that an interest in behaving cooperatively is inheritable. We do see cooperative behavior elsewhere in the animal kingdom, ants, bees, and wolves being the most famous examples of inherited cooperative behavior. If we assume that behaving cooperatively is at least partially heritable in humans, then it is likely that people will vary in how prone they are to acting cooperatively; from not at all, to, without question, with many shades in between. Looking at this (extremely briefly) from an evolutionary point of view we can speculate that cooperation has a survival benefit for humans, and therefore humans would likely also develop and inherit an ability to detect people who are not cooperating. Researchers claim that this ability does exist and is quite refined. Game theory scientists have created artificial computerized societies where multitudes of independent cyber-agents play a simple game with each other, two at a time. The agents are pre-programmed with different strategies and sometimes the ability to adjust the strategy by learning from its experience. If a particular pair cooperate in the game they both score a moderate result, if one cooperates and the other plays a selfish strategy then the selfish one scores high and the cooperator low, if both are selfish neither gets anything. The game is allowed to continue for quite some time. Depending on the relative score values and the beginning concentrations of cooperators and "defectors" the game's results will vary some, but the overall conclusion seems to be that if cooperators use a strategy where they remember who has defected on them in the past and defect when paired with them again (or perhaps give them one more chance), and otherwise always cooperate with others, then cooperators will come to dominate the society. However if cooperators do not discriminate and always cooperate, then defectors will come to dominate. Clearly we do not live in "The Matrix" but I still think that there is information here that can help focus the discussion. I must also say that I do realize that there are many reasons besides selfishness that can cause someone to appear to not act cooperatively, particularly during any given time period. Also I realize that there is a difference between not acting cooperatively and not cooperating with someone else's ideas on some particular problem. Still, I feel that there are good reasons for believing that if you want to live in a highly cooperative community then there must be a system for identifying and penalizing non-cooperative behavior. Don Arkin, Sonora Cohousing, where the monsoon rains have finally begun to quench the wildfires _______________________________________________ Cohousing-L mailing list Cohousing-L [at] cohousing.org Unsubscribe and other info: http://www.cohousing.org/cohousing-L
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