Altruism, a Non Zero Sum game?

by horngyih

You live on a plot of land in a valley and have a neighbouring farm on the highland of the valley. On a particularly bad season, your neighbour’s plot received most of the rains allowing them to do very well, but being in the valley your plot of farmlands gets none of the much needed moisture so your crops was almost decimated. You swallow your pride and asked your neighbour for help to which they happily share their surplus that got you and your neighbour through the winter.

The following year a particular bad land slide saw the decimation of your neighbour’s farmlands. The same your you don’t do very well either and manage to reap enough for your family to barely survive the winter. It is now your neighbour’s turn to ask for help. The winters is setting in soon and knowing if you share any part of your stock – both families will surely starve to death.

Do you honour the social contract of returning the favour and share your stocks with your neighbour – repaying your debt in favour but dooming both family to starvation and annihilation or break the contract so that your family survives?

Just a thought experiment. Perhaps a Non-Zero sum game, but a negative non-zero sum game. Cooperation yields a negative sum, non-cooperation means one survives and the other perishes.