Special Issue "Ethics, Morality, and Game Theory"

A special issue of Games (ISSN 2073-4336).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (31 July 2017)

Special Issue Editors

Guest Editor
Dr. Mark Alfano

Ethics & Philosophy of Technology, Delft University of Technology, 2628 BX Delft, The Netherlands. Philosophy, Australian Catholic University, Fitzroy Victoria 3065, Melbourne, Australia
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Interests: ethics; Nietzsche; philosophy of mind; experimental philosophy
Guest Editor
Dr. Matthias Uhl

Technical University of Munich, Arcisstrasse 21, 80333 Munich, Germany
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Interests: experimental economics; experimental ethics; business ethics; behavioral economics; philosophy of science
Guest Editor
Dr. Hannes Rusch

Public Economics Group, University of Marburg, Am Plan 1-2, D-35037 Marburg, Germany
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Interests: behavioral economics; evolutionary biology

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Game theory studies strategic interaction among agents who seek to maximize their gains in situations allowing for coordination, cooperation or competition. Ethics and morality study the norms, values, rights, duties, and virtues fitting for humans and perhaps also some non-human animals and artificial intelligences. This Special Issue of Games brings these fields together. We solicit papers on the topic of ethics, morality, and game theory. Papers may be theoretical or empirical. In addition, papers may be descriptive (e.g., studies of folk morality using ultimatum games, trust games, public good games, etc.) or normative (e.g., developing arguments about which individual or institutional norms are morally permissible, impermissible or optimific).

We are especially interested in papers that combine descriptive and normative aspects in conclusive ways. Efforts to bridge the is-ought gap in either direction are encouraged.

To support open, reproducible research, empirical papers should include a power analysis and make all data available on publication. Pre-registered studies will be prized.

Submitted papers must be written in English, and should be approximately 8000 words including references. All submissions will receive triple-blind review, typically within five weeks. Games is an open access journal. At the discretion of the editors of this special issue, up to five publication fees (typically 550 CHF) will be waived; junior researchers and those with no institutional support for open access fees will be prioritized. We welcome submissions from researchers at all career stages and all disciplines, as long as they are on-topic. We especially encourage submissions from members of underrepresented groups.

Dr. Mark Alfano
Dr. Matthias Uhl
Dr. Hannes Rusch
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Games is an international peer-reviewed open access quarterly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 550 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • ethics
  • morality
  • game theory
  • institutions
  • trust
  • moral psychology
  • experimental philosophy
  • experimental economics

Published Papers (8 papers)

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Research

Open AccessArticle Moral Entitlements and Aspiration Formation in Asymmetric Bargaining: Experimental Evidence from Germany and China
Games 2017, 8(4), 44; doi:10.3390/g8040044
Received: 31 July 2017 / Revised: 26 September 2017 / Accepted: 28 September 2017 / Published: 17 October 2017
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Abstract
Using a unique experimental data set, we investigate how asymmetric legal rights shape bargainers’ aspiration levels through moral entitlements derived from equity norms and number prominence. Aspiration formation is typically hard to observe in real life. Our study involves 15 negotiations from Germany
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Using a unique experimental data set, we investigate how asymmetric legal rights shape bargainers’ aspiration levels through moral entitlements derived from equity norms and number prominence. Aspiration formation is typically hard to observe in real life. Our study involves 15 negotiations from Germany and China. Over the course of the negotiation, bargainers discuss the distribution of an amount of money by alternating offers until they consent or break off. Legal rights are randomly assigned by asymmetric outside options. We videotape and code the in-group discussions. In total, verbal data from 30 groups, 1100 pages of transcripts, and 65 h of discussions are content-analyzed. Our main finding is that strong groups derive and defend moral entitlements from equity concerns with regard to their outside options. They strive for equitable but unequal distributions (e.g., proportional split and split the difference). Moral entitlements materialize in the recorded aspiration levels and final payoffs, which exceed the equal split. By contrast, weak groups aim at equality. Over the course of the negotiation, equity tends to lose, while the prominence of round numbers gains importance. Similarities between the subject pools are found in that equity and prominence are both decisive for the formation of aspiration levels. Chinese negotiations are characterized by long periods of stagnation, only minimal concessions, and the communication of false goals. By contrast, Germans steadily reduce their goals and make concessions. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Ethics, Morality, and Game Theory)
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Open AccessArticle Social Preferences and Context Sensitivity
Games 2017, 8(4), 43; doi:10.3390/g8040043
Received: 28 July 2017 / Revised: 29 September 2017 / Accepted: 6 October 2017 / Published: 13 October 2017
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Abstract
This paper is a partial review of the literature on ‘social preferences'. There are empirical findings that convincingly demonstrate the existence of social preferences, but there are also studies that indicate their fragility. So how robust are social preferences, and how exactly are
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This paper is a partial review of the literature on ‘social preferences'. There are empirical findings that convincingly demonstrate the existence of social preferences, but there are also studies that indicate their fragility. So how robust are social preferences, and how exactly are they context dependent? One of the most promising insights from the literature, in my view, is an equilibrium explanation of mutually referring conditional social preferences and expectations. I use this concept of equilibrium, summarized by means of a figure, to discuss a range of empirical studies. Where appropriate, I also briefly discuss a couple of insights from the (mostly parallel) evolutionary literature about cooperation. A concrete case of the Orma in Kenya will be used as a motivating example in the beginning. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Ethics, Morality, and Game Theory)
Open AccessFeature PaperArticle Towards a Fair Distribution Mechanism for Asylum
Games 2017, 8(4), 41; doi:10.3390/g8040041
Received: 31 July 2017 / Revised: 18 September 2017 / Accepted: 20 September 2017 / Published: 25 September 2017
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Abstract
It has been suggested that the distribution of refugees over host countries can be made more fair or efficient if policy makers take into account not only numbers of refugees to be distributed but also the goodness of the matches between refugees and
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It has been suggested that the distribution of refugees over host countries can be made more fair or efficient if policy makers take into account not only numbers of refugees to be distributed but also the goodness of the matches between refugees and their possible host countries. There are different ways to design distribution mechanisms that incorporate this practice, which opens up a space for normative considerations. In particular, if the mechanism takes countries’ or refugees’ preferences into account, there may be trade-offs between satisfying their preferences and the number of refugees distributed. This article argues that, in such cases, it is not a reasonable policy to satisfy preferences. Moreover, conditions are given which, if satisfied, prevent the trade-off from occurring. Finally, it is argued that countries should not express preferences over refugees, but rather that priorities for refugees should be imposed, and that fairness beats efficiency in the context of distributing asylum. The framework of matching theory is used to make the arguments precise, but the results are general and relevant for other distribution mechanisms such as the relocations currently in effect in the European Union. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Ethics, Morality, and Game Theory)
Open AccessCommunication On Adverse Effects of Consumers’ Attaching Greater Importance to Firms’ Ethical Conduct
Games 2017, 8(3), 39; doi:10.3390/g8030039
Received: 28 July 2017 / Revised: 31 August 2017 / Accepted: 6 September 2017 / Published: 14 September 2017
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Abstract
Consumers increasingly care about firms’ ethical conduct (e.g., labor and environmental practices) when making their consumption choices. This note presents a simple framework to highlight the possibility that this development may induce a less desirable production technology choice and bring about lower market
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Consumers increasingly care about firms’ ethical conduct (e.g., labor and environmental practices) when making their consumption choices. This note presents a simple framework to highlight the possibility that this development may induce a less desirable production technology choice and bring about lower market transparency. When faced with consumers’ greater moral concerns, more firms may choose an undesirable mode of production and shroud information about it. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Ethics, Morality, and Game Theory)
Open AccessFeature PaperArticle Strategic Behavior of Moralists and Altruists
Games 2017, 8(3), 38; doi:10.3390/g8030038
Received: 31 July 2017 / Revised: 27 August 2017 / Accepted: 30 August 2017 / Published: 11 September 2017
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Abstract
Does altruism and morality lead to socially better outcomes in strategic interactions than selfishness? We shed some light on this complex and non-trivial issue by examining a few canonical strategic interactions played by egoists, altruists and moralists. By altruists, we mean people who
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Does altruism and morality lead to socially better outcomes in strategic interactions than selfishness? We shed some light on this complex and non-trivial issue by examining a few canonical strategic interactions played by egoists, altruists and moralists. By altruists, we mean people who do not only care about their own material payoffs but also about those to others, and, by a moralist, we mean someone who cares about own material payoff and also about what would be his or her material payoff if others were to act like himself or herself. It turns out that both altruism and morality may improve or worsen equilibrium outcomes, depending on the nature of the game. Not surprisingly, both altruism and morality improve the outcomes in standard public goods games. In infinitely repeated games, however, both altruism and morality may diminish the prospects of cooperation, and to different degrees. In coordination games, morality can eliminate socially inefficient equilibria while altruism cannot. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Ethics, Morality, and Game Theory)
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Open AccessFeature PaperArticle Team Incentives under Moral and Altruistic Preferences: Which Team to Choose?
Games 2017, 8(3), 37; doi:10.3390/g8030037
Received: 28 July 2017 / Revised: 27 August 2017 / Accepted: 30 August 2017 / Published: 5 September 2017
Cited by 1 | PDF Full-text (862 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
This paper studies incentives provision when agents are characterized either by homo moralis preferences, i.e., their utility is represented by a convex combination of selfish preferences and Kantian morality, or by altruism. In a moral hazard in a team setting with two agents
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This paper studies incentives provision when agents are characterized either by homo moralis preferences, i.e., their utility is represented by a convex combination of selfish preferences and Kantian morality, or by altruism. In a moral hazard in a team setting with two agents whose efforts affect output stochastically, I demonstrate that the power of extrinsic incentives decreases with the degrees of morality and altruism displayed by the agents, thus leading to increased profits for the principal. I also show that a team of moral agents will only be preferred if the production technology exhibits decreasing returns to efforts; the probability of a high realization of output conditional on both agents exerting effort is sufficiently high; and either the outside option for the agents is zero or the degree of morality is sufficiently low. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Ethics, Morality, and Game Theory)
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Open AccessArticle Dual-Process Reasoning in Charitable Giving: Learning from Non-Results
Games 2017, 8(3), 36; doi:10.3390/g8030036
Received: 26 April 2017 / Revised: 13 August 2017 / Accepted: 17 August 2017 / Published: 21 August 2017
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Abstract
To identify dual-process reasoning in giving, we exposed experimental participants making a charitable donation to vivid images of the charity’s beneficiaries in order to stimulate affect. We hypothesized that the effect of an affective manipulation on giving would be larger when we simultaneously
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To identify dual-process reasoning in giving, we exposed experimental participants making a charitable donation to vivid images of the charity’s beneficiaries in order to stimulate affect. We hypothesized that the effect of an affective manipulation on giving would be larger when we simultaneously put the subjects under cognitive load using a numerical recall task. Independent treatment checks reveal opposite responses in men and women and cast some doubt on the reliability of our mainstream treatment manipulations and assessment tools. We find no evidence for dual-process decision-making, even among women, whose responses to the manipulations conformed most to our expectations. These results highlight the need for caution in the use of these common manipulations, the importance of independent manipulation checks, and the limitations of dual-process models for understanding altruistic behavior. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Ethics, Morality, and Game Theory)
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Open AccessArticle Reacting to Unfairness: Group Identity and Dishonest Behavior
Games 2017, 8(3), 28; doi:10.3390/g8030028
Received: 12 June 2017 / Revised: 7 July 2017 / Accepted: 7 July 2017 / Published: 14 July 2017
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Abstract
We experimentally investigate whether individuals are more likely to engage in dishonest behavior after having experienced unfairness perpetrated by an individual with a salient group identity. Two individuals generate an endowment together, but only one can decide how to share it. They either
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We experimentally investigate whether individuals are more likely to engage in dishonest behavior after having experienced unfairness perpetrated by an individual with a salient group identity. Two individuals generate an endowment together, but only one can decide how to share it. They either share the same group identity or have distinct group identities. Then, they approach a task in which they can opportunistically engage in dishonest behavior. Our results show that when individuals share the same group identity, unfair distributive decisions do not trigger a dishonest reaction. In contrast, when different group identities coexist, dishonest behavior is observed as a reaction to unfairness. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Ethics, Morality, and Game Theory)
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