Thursday, July 16, 2009

Agalmics in action

So, in the pub the other night, these Doctor Steel types turned up mob handed, so the poor bar feller was swamped. Eventually, he got to me, but, I pointed out that some other lad had been waiting longer - the bar feller indicated that he was at this end of the bar now, so he'd do me anyway (he was looking a bit frazzled).

I apologised to the lad. His response was interesting, he offered to the barman to pay for my drink, so that he could get his now - he'd clearly been waiting a while.

We clinked glasses, and honour was satisfied.

Now, this strikes me as agalmics in action, lets look through.

1: I offer to let the lad go first. I couldn't loose, I'd be guaranteed to get served after him anyway (bar folk remember things like that), and I was protecting a general interest in queuing (it's a bummer when people get served straight after coming to the bar when you've been waiting an age).
2: He had an interest:
a) In re-enforcing the queuing system (he's just lost out due to its breakdown).
b) In getting his drink as soon as possible.

So, we both had a self interest which we served by not doing the immediately self-interested thing, but acting in an other centred way. This is a good example of the evolution of co-operation, of agalmic behaviour. Bastardised Smithian behaviour wouldn't allow for this sort of thing, it would say by grabbing my drink at the first chance, and him pushing to get his drink soonest, we'd all be better off, but it seems that freely exchanging gifts, we made the system work better.

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