I suspect you realize that if there were such a thing as you’re looking for, you would have heard of it.
Everyone supposedly knows the difference between right and wrong, but if this is the case, then why don’t they know the answer to the question posed here? What is known is that the only way to “discover” what’s right in this situation is to bring an action at court, argue it out, and then take a vote of jurors. If there is in fact a workable “ethical” decision-making model in existence, then why is it not used?
Every tribal people knows how to handle conflicts like the one you describe (“has a workable decision-making model”), but I’ve never heard of a tribal people whose way of handling conflicts had anything to do with “ethics.” In every tribe I know of, cases are handled on an individual basis (since no two are alike), along lines roughly consonant with game theory.
Thus, what is sought is not the biggest win for any party but the least loss for all parties. (Game theory is notably not about ethics, but rather about desired and undesired outcomes; people do not in fact know right from wrong, but they do infallibly know what they want and don’t want.)
posted: 05 May 2001
updated: 22 Jun 2002