In this final chapter, I take on two questions, one from biology and one from philosophy:
- In biology, the “problem of altruism" is the apparent conflict between natural selection, which suggests that animals live in a state of constant competition, and altruism, which is the tendency of many animals to help other animals, even to their own detriment. See http://thinkcomplex.com/altruism.
- In moral philosophy, the question of human nature asks whether humans are fundamentally good, or evil, or blank states shaped by their environment. See http://thinkcomplex.com/nature.
The tools I use to address these questions are agent-based simulation (again) and game theory, which is a set of abstract models meant to describe ways agents interact. Specifically, the game we will consider is the Prisoner’s Dilemma.
The code for this chapter is in
chap12.ipynb, which is a Jupyter notebook in the repository for this book. For more information about working with this code, see Section 0.3.