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Table of Contents

Personal Identity and the Phineas Gage Effect

Kevin Patrick Tobia, Yale University

Systems, Structural Properties, and Levels of Organisation: The Influence of Ludwig Von Bertalanffy on the Work of F.A. Hayek.

Paul A. Lewis, King's College London - Department of Political Economy

Corrupt Collaboration

Ori Weisel, University of Nottingham, Max Planck Society for the Advancement of the Sciences - Max Planck Institute for Economics
Shaul Shalvi, University of Nottingham


"Personal Identity and the Phineas Gage Effect" Free Download


Phineas Gage’s story is typically offered as a paradigm example supporting the view that part of what matters for personal identity is a certain magnitude of similarity between earlier and later individuals. Yet, reconsidering a slight variant of Phineas Gage’s story indicates that it is not just magnitude of similarity, but also the direction of change that affects personal identity judgments; in some cases, changes for the worse are more seen as identity-severing than changes for the better of comparable magnitude. Ironically, thinking carefully about Phineas Gage’s story tells against the thesis it is typically taken to support.

"Systems, Structural Properties, and Levels of Organisation: The Influence of Ludwig Von Bertalanffy on the Work of F.A. Hayek." Free Download

PAUL A. LEWIS, King's College London - Department of Political Economy

This paper examines the influence exerted on the thought of F.A. Hayek by the work of the biologist and founder of systems theory, Ludwig von Bertalanffy. It is argued first of all that Bertalanffy provided Hayek with a conceptual framework in terms of which he could articulate the philosophical significance of his theoretical psychology. In particular, Bertalanffy’s work afforded Hayek a set of concepts that helped him to articulate the relationship between mental and physical events — that is, between mind and body — implied by his theory. The second part of the paper builds on the first by exploring how Hayek subsequently applied the abstract conceptual framework or ontology set out by Bertalanffy to the economy. In this way, Bertalanffy’s ideas helped Hayek to articulate and shape his emerging view of the economy as a complex adaptive system, which consists of different ‘levels of organisation’, which displays ‘structural’ or ‘emergent properties’, and which evolves over time on the basis of those group-level properties.

"Corrupt Collaboration" 
Inequality, Trust and Ethics Conference: London 2015

ORI WEISEL, University of Nottingham, Max Planck Society for the Advancement of the Sciences - Max Planck Institute for Economics
SHAUL SHALVI, University of Nottingham

Theoretical background / Presenting problem
Humans are an exceptionally cooperative species. We cooperate in large groups which extend beyond the boundaries of genetic kinship even when reputational gains are unlikely or impossible. These cooperative tendencies are essential for completing tasks that individuals cannot accomplish alone. In many cases establishing sustainable cooperative relationships sets successful individuals and groups apart from less successful ones. The benefits of cooperation are indeed clear and numerous. Little is known, however, about its possible negative aspects.

Research question / Objectives
We conjectured that corrupt collaboration — the attainment of personal profits by joint unethical acts — would be (i) particularly prevalent when both interaction partners equally share the profits generated by dishonest acts, and (ii) more frequent than individual dishonest behavior in a comparable setting.

We introduce a novel sequential dyadic die-rolling paradigm in which player A privately rolls a die, reports the result to player B, who then privately rolls and reports the result as well. Participants (N=316) were assigned to one of eight experimental conditions. In the main experimental treatment both players are paid the value of the reports if, and only if, they are identical (a ‘double’; e.g., if both report rolling a four, each earns four Euros). Since rolls are truly private, players could inflate their profits by misreporting the actual results.

Results & interpretation of findings
In 20 repeated trials, the proportion of reported doubles was more than four times higher than the expected proportion if participants were reporting honestly. Despite the fact that player B is the one that ultimately determines whether a double is reported or not, modifications to the incentive structure of both A or B had nearly identical effects on the frequency of reported doubles. The tendency to lie in a collaborative dyadic setting was amplified relative to a comparable individual setting. When the payoffs of both players were perfectly aligned, an unusually high portion of players (50%) behaved in a totally brazen manner, reporting doubles in each and every one of the twenty trials.

Our results show that that collaborative settings — in particular when the interests of both partners are perfectly aligned — steer people’s cooperative tendencies towards dishonest behavior, and provide fertile ground for the emergence of ‘corrupt collaboration’.


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Advisory Board

Philosophy of Mind eJournal

Regents Professor of Philosophy, University of Arizona

Professor of Philosophy, ARC Federation Fellow, Director - Center for Consciousness, Australian National University

Carleton Professor of Philosophy, Colgate University

Arthur Kingsley Porter Professor of Philosophy, Harvard University

Commonwealth Professor of Philosophy and Professor of Law, University of Virginia

Hans Reichenbach Professor of Philosophy and William F. Vilas Research Professor, University of Wisconsin

Professor of Philosophy, Rutgers University

Associate Professor of Philosophy, Cornell University