Presuppositions of The Game TheorySoloman believes that as the game theory gets more sophisticated, we tend tolose sight of the problem rather than solve it. He sees the problem as how toget people to think about business and about themselves in an Aristotelianrather than a neo-Hobbesian (or even a Rawlsian) way, which the game theoreticalmodels simply presuppose. Soloman discusses seven presuppositions in the first section of his “Ethics &Excellence” book. They are: rationality and prudence; motivation and self-interest; money and measurement; the anomaly of altruism; good and goals; theopen-ended playing field; and the role of the rules. Soloman rejects eachpresupposition and gives his reasons why.
This essay will discuss two of these presuppositions and either agree ordisagree with Soloman and then give reasons as to why. The two presuppositionsthat will be discussed are money and measurement and the role of the rules. Money and MeasurementIn business, as in most games, we like to keep score. As one of Soloman’sbusinessman friends told him “in business you always know how well you are doing. You just have to put your hand in your pocket. ” People often think the moremoney one has, the happier they are.
You often hear people say “if I only hadmore money, I would be happy. ” Frequently the perceived level of success iscompared to the size of one’s bank account, the location of their house or theamount of cars in the driveway. People seem to perceive money as beinghappiness. Soloman says that keeping score, although it is not an essential feature ofgames, seems to be one of the most durable features of game theory. He thinksthat the best way to keep score is to have a dependable point system, a definiteunit of worth, which is money. Soloman rejects this presupposition by first stating that “money isn’t the onlyor even primary social good”, and “money is only a means and not an end.
“Soloman agrees with these statements but to further reject this presupposition,he goes on to discuss another example involving money. Social theorists, in general, “like to talk about money, because money is areadily measurable utility, a readily comparable measure, and apparently clearbasis for comparison. “But even some of these unrefined theorists recognizethat equal amounts of money do not have equal significance for different people,therefore money is not an absolute readily measurable utility. Soloman statesthat various ends are hard to compare and so success and “maximum utility” maybe hard to measure. “If we were to assign every end a monetary value, however,and rate various preferences according to their exchange value on the market, wewould indeed have a single scale on which to compare and evaluate ends and meansand determine utility.
“I agree with Soloman’s reasoning. I do not think that success and “maximumutility” can be so easily measured with money. Almost everyone in the worldvalues money, but not all at the same rate. The importance of money varies fromperson to person, therefore the “utility of money” varies. Some people ratemoney as the most important thing to them. These people usually get lost intheir everyday work life, doing everything for money and measuring everythingwith a monetary value.
Some people perceive money as important, but not moreimportant than such things as their families, health and freedom. Then, thereare some people who are happy with what they have. I was once told that thewealthiest people in the world are the people that are happy with what they have. These people need only enough money to be reasonably comfortable and theybelieve in the importance of self-esteem and peace of mind.
People havedifferent wants and different values, which makes it very hard to use money asan absolute means of measurement. The Role of the RulesWe generally conceive games as rule-defined. Almost all games have rules thatmust be followed in order to play. There are usually steps and strict rulesthat define games and they are mostly played the same each and every time.
Businesses also have rules. They are also defined by steps and strict laws. Organizations and employees must abide by these rules in order to functionproperly. Soloman also states that games are thought mostly to be rule-defined but hethinks that business as a practice is much larger than that.
In business, therules come after and people need to use sensitivity and imagination and not justobey these rules. He say that there are rules (especially laws) and that it isboth unethical and imprudent to disobey them. Soloman thinks “it is essentialto see business and business life first of all as a practice, not a game, inwhich general expectations and mutual agreements are established before thereare any rules, much less laws. “I agree with Soloman mostly because I too see business as a practice and not agame. I think that when someone wants to create a business, they generallyestablish expectations and mutual agreements but as for any rules or laws, theseare created after the business is setup. You can’t go into a business withstrict rules and laws if you don’t know what the business is.
Once the companygoals are set, then there must be rules and boundaries as to how employees canobtain these organizational goals. Games are very specific. In business, somerules are very strict, some are made to be bent and some rules are made up asthe business develops. Although laws are not rules that can be bent or broken,only after the details of the business have been founded can the laws that applyto this certain company be established. In conclusion, Soloman was right to reject all of the presuppositions hediscussed in his book. I agree with each and everyone of them.
As for moneyand measurement, money should not be considered an absolute measurement ofsuccess or “maximum utility”. The value of money varies too greatly from personto person. A “mom and pop” store owner may be more than happy with the constantbut average amount of money that flows in to him each week but a top executivemay be unhappy with his salary that is probably five times more than thesatisfied store owner. Many various variables must be considered whenattempting to measure success or “maximum utility”, such as values, how thatperson defines success, their upbringing, and many more.
The role of the rulespresupposition is rejected because, as stated earlier, business should be seenas a practice and not a game. Games have specific and strict rules and inbusiness, expectations and mutual agreements must be established before thereare any rules. The rules in business are established after the business isfounded and not before such as in games. I do not think that the sevenpresuppositions of the game theory are appropriate and I agree with Soloman’srejections.Philosophy