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Does meeting ones obligations to others serve ones self-interest The logical answer as presented in many philosophers and humanists views is NO Hobbes considers the challenge of a Foole who claims that it is irrational to honor an agreement made with another who has already fulfilled his part of the agreement Noting that in this situation one has gained all the benefit of the others compliance the Foole contends that it would now be best for him to break the agreement thereby saving himself the costs of compliance Of course if the Fooles analysis of the situation is correct then would the other party to the agreement not anticipate the Fooles response to agreements honored and act accordingly David Hume 1711-1776 seemed to pose this same question in the so-called Farmers dilemma Two neighboring farmers each expect a bumper crop of corn Each will require his neighbors help in harvesting his corn when it ripens or else a substantial portion will rot in the field Since their corn will ripen at different times the two farmers can ensure full harvests for themselves by helping each other when their crops ripen and both know this Yet the farmers do not help each other For the farmer whose corn ripens laterfarmer 2 reasons that if he were to help the other farmer farmer 1 then when his own corn ripens farmer 1 would be in the position of Hobbes Foole having already benefited from his help farmer 1 would no longer have anything to gain from him so he would not help him sparing himself the hard labor of a second harvest Farmer 2 cannot expect farmer 1 to return his aid when the time comes thus farmer 2 will not help the other when his corn ripens This was the precursor of the well-known Prisoners Dilemma a game invented at Princetons Institute of Advanced Science in 1950s which similarly confronts people with logic of rational
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