Date: 30 Aug 2001

Suicide as an Evolutionarily Stable Strategy

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Ethics has traditionally been the domain of philosophers, pursuing their investigations a priori, since social experimentation is not an option. After Axelrod’s work, artificial life (ALife) methods have been applied to social simulation. Here we use an ALife simulation to pursue experiments with ethics. We use a utilitarian model for assessing what is ethical, as it offers a computationally clear means of measuring ethical value, based on the utility of outcomes. We investigate the particular action of altruistic suicide fostering the survival of others, demonstrating that suicide can be an evolutionarily stable strategy (ESS).