CUREJ - College Undergraduate Research Electronic Journal

A Drink from the Group

Livia Levine, University of Pennsylvania

Division: Humanities; Social Sciences

Dept/Program: Philosophy Politics & Econ

Document Type: Undergraduate Student Research

Mentor(s): Brian Skyrms

Date of this Version: 09 April 2006

This document has been peer reviewed.



You’re sitting in a bar with eight friends, everyone staring at one hot guy. The only caveat is that you can’t get his attention, and neither can anyone else. If you do something to get noticed all your friends will regard you as a traitor and, while the guy might be cute, he’s not worth that much. So you and your friends have two options: 1. Sit around and stare at him, on the odd chance that he might come over on his own. 2. Everyone chips in to buy him a drink from the group; then he will definitely notice your group, and he can decide on his own whom he wants to leave the bar with, if anyone.

What the friends would do in such a situation depends not only on each individual girl’s confidence in winning the guy, but also on each girl’s willingness to risk the cost of the drink, knowing that there is a pretty good chance that she herself will not get the guy.

When other forms of communities make decisions about the functioning of their systems of government, welfare, wealth-management, and trade, they often follow similar lines of thinking. Many internal communal policies are founded upon the amount of risk that the individuals in the community are willing to take, and the discussion between John Rawls and John C. Harsanyi on a democratic politic’s moral responsibility is based on the moral riskiness which each attributes to society’s members.

Suggested Citation

Levine, Livia, "A Drink from the Group" 09 April 2006. CUREJ: College Undergraduate Research Electronic Journal, University of Pennsylvania,

Date Posted: 04 October 2006

This document has been peer reviewed.




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