Are Kantian equilibriums limited to a normative concept?


In this chapter, we reviewed Kantian Cooperation and its outcome. Moreover, we learned that Kantian equilibriums own high explanatory power regarding daily life issues, as well as great normative value. Their most relevant properties are listed below.

  1. Kantian equilibriums (KE) are Pareto efficient, which makes them a good candidate to replace the inefficiencies of Nash equilibriums.
  2. Kant’s categorical imperative is cooperative despite the fact it does not demand individuals to be empathetic.
  3. Agents need only to assess how they would act if all others behaved as they do.

If we put aside the fact that agents may have different utility functions, it still seems that Kantian equilibriums are only undestood in a normative way, since in real life people constantly seeks to take advantage and benefit from being the first to change their behaviour by taking others as fixed. Nevertheless, I do believe the justification of Kant’s categorical imperative is more compelling in environments in which agents are almost identical. This can be observed in specific real-life cases such as members of a sport team, in which one decides to expand his effort by a factor α if and only if he expects all others to expand theirs by the same factor.

On the other hand, I am convinced that it could be more likely to observe Kantian equilibriums in our daily life, but the challenge would be to convince people to live by Kantian rules, which would mean conducting their lives according to Kantian ethics rather than egoistic ethics. In this way, a more cooperative behavior will be observed, and externalities, in case of being negative, would reduce their impact, and in case of being positive they would expand it.

If you are interested on the topic, I encourage you to share any case that springs to mind. In addition, you may find more details and examples in Roemer’s Kantian Equilibrium :grinning:


Hi @CarlosTabares !

I agree with your last conclusion, that the thing is how can we be sure that people will live by Kantian rules. Roemer (2015) said that parents try to teach Kantian behavior to their children. But still we can’t be sure that if you were educated this way you will behavelike this every time.

But I do believe that humans are selfish; But the Kantian equilibria will stand, because put it in the way that you and I are in the same boat, so we will tend to cooperate if we’re sinking. So, maybe the thing is that even though we’re selfish we inherently cooperate because we´re motivated by the desire to help oneself. :stuck_out_tongue:

I encourage you to visit my post about Nash equilibria vs Kantian equilibria, there I explain further cooperation in kantian equilibria.