I’m reading The Property Species by Bart Wilson. I like chapter 4 “What is Right is Not Taken Out of the Rule, but Let the Rule Arise Out of What Is Right,” partly because I got to play a small part in this line of research.
Along with several coauthors, Bart Wilson has run experiments in which players have the ability to make and consume goods. According to the instructions that all players read at the beginning of the experiment, “when the clock expires… you earn cash based upon the number of red and blue items that have been moved to your house.”
Property norms can emerge in these environments, and sometimes subjects take goods from each other in an action that could be called “stealing.” The experimental instructions do not contain any morally loaded words like “stealing,” but subjects use that word to describe the activities of their counterparts.
Here is a conversation from the transcript of the chat room players can use to communicate while they produce and trade digital goods:
E: do you want to do this right way?
F: wht is the right way
E: the right way is I produce red you make blue then we split it nobody gets 100 percent profit but we both win
F: tht wht I been doing then u started stealingContinue reading