Thursday, July 23, 2009

Is fairness unfair?

Let's imagine a world with 6 resources and two factions fighting over it. The exact description of none of these matter.

In the first scenario the two factions fight. One is more skilled and ends up with 4 resources while the other gets only 1, and 1 resource is destroyed in the process. This is a merit-based system of distribution, though a rather violent and wasteful one.

Let's try something nicer.

In the second scenario they cooperate. They achieve full benefit of resources, ending up harvesting all 6. They are also fair and each faction gets 3 resources. This is rather unfair, isn't it? How?

The more capable faction went from 4 to 3, a loss of 25%. However the less capable faction went from 1 to 3, a 300% gain. Or is it 200%? I hate expressing numbers like this. There was greater overall prosperity, 20% more resources overall, and yet one faction lost resources. The other got all the benefits of the prosperity, plus more.

In this situation it makes no sense for the stronger faction to cooperate. Why should they give up what they earned? Fairness is nice, except for those on the losing end.


Drazmor said...

Thats an interesting idea...

I'm gonna love getting people with that.

G-Rebel said...

Maybe you need to consider that if one faction is indeed more skilled than the other, there is a better chance that they will be more productive and utilize their resources more efficiently, thereby potentially making up any loss of a fourth resource.

Not only that, through their skill and cunning they could set up trade with the "less-skilled" faction, thus tapping into all 6 resources. It's the whole Rancher v Farmer debate of economics. Ultimately it's possible to achieve the output needed for everyone to gain utility.

But eventually, the skilled and cunning faction will use their power, skill, cunning, politics, & reality shows to oppress the lesser faction, thereby making them masters of all resources.

Everything is unfair, including fairness!

Klepsacovic said...

@Drazmor: Be careful that they don't get you right back. I intend to add a disclaimer sometime: "Warning: My logic may be flawed and missing important aspects of the problem."

@G-Rebel: That efficiency could be expressed as a multiplier, meaning that the loss is actually more than one, it's one times the multiplier, making them even worse off.

Note thought that I didn't say what they're more skilled at, though this clearly indicates war. That may not actually translate to any skill with utilizing resources in non-military manners. In fact, if it comes down to politics and negotiation, they could find themselves totally outmaneuvered, which might explain an eventual war.