Advertisement

Equity and Democracy: Seeking the Common Good as a Common Ground for Interstellar Communication

  • Yvan DutilEmail author
Chapter
Part of the The Frontiers Collection book series (FRONTCOLL)

Abstract

What cultural traits could we possibly share with any extraterrestrial civilization? It could be argued that every civilization has to face the same challenge: How to distribute resources between different tasks and/or individuals. Limitations of resources and conflicting interests are likely to be universal problems. In many cases, no perfect solution exists and cultural tradition plays a role in the choice of the allocation procedure. Being simultaneously universal and culturally oriented, the allocation problem is especially suitable as a topic of discussion between civilizations. Two theories attempt to solve the problem of fair resource distribution: equity theory and social choice theory. Both theories are described within a mathematical framework, which eases their translation into interstellar messages. Equitable sharing procedures and electoral procedures are intellectual tools developed to deal with conflicting individual interests for the best outcome for the group at large. Therefore, both equity and social choice theories are products of civilizations seeking to better manage interactions between individuals with selfish tendencies. In such circumstances, altruism should emerge as a prized quality that would be encouraged by extraterrestrial societies, but that is difficult to achieve at the level of individuals due to natural tendencies for selfishness. Therefore, social choice and equity theories are topics of discussion that should provide common ground for communication with any civilization that is struggling, like we are, to build a fairer society.

Keywords

Equity theory Social choice theory Fairness Resource distribution Democracy SETI 

References

  1. Arrow, Kenneth J. 1963. Social Choice and Individual Values, 2nd edition. New York: Wiley.Google Scholar
  2. Brams, Steven J., and Alan D. Taylor. 1996. Fair Division: From Cake-cutting to Dispute Resolution. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  3. Brosnan, Sarah F., and Frans B. M. de Waal. 2003. “Monkeys Reject Unequal Pay.” Nature 425:297–299.Google Scholar
  4. Condorcet, Marie Jean Antoine Nicolas Caritat. 1847 [1782]. “Discours prononcé dans l’Académie Française le jeudi 21 février 1782.” In Oeuvres de Condorcet, Volume 1, edited by A. Condorcet O’Connor and M. F. Arago, 389–415. Paris: Firmin Didot.Google Scholar
  5. Condorcet, Marie Jean Antoine Nicolas Caritat. 1785. Éssai sur l’application de l’analyse à la probabilité des décisions rendues à la pluralité de voix. Paris: De L’Imprimerie Royale.Google Scholar
  6. Conradt, Larissa, and Timothy J. Roper. 2003. “Group Decision-making in Animals.” Nature 421(6919):155–158.Google Scholar
  7. Dahl, Robert A. 1991. Democracy and Its Critics. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press.Google Scholar
  8. de Borda, Jean Charles. 1781 [1770]. Mémoire sur les élections au scrutin. Histoire de l’Académie Royale des Sciences. Accessed January 1, 2013. http://gerardgreco.free.fr/IMG/pdf/MA_c_moire-Borda-1781.pdf.
  9. Dumas, Stéphane. 2011. “A Proposal for an Interstellar Rosetta Stone.” In Communication with Extraterrestrial Intelligence (CETI), edited by Douglas A. Vakoch, 403–411. Albany, NY: State University of New York Press.Google Scholar
  10. Dutil, Yvan, and Stéphane Dumas. 1998. “Active SETI: Targets Selection and Message Conception.” Paper presented at the annual meeting of the American Astronomical Society, Austin, Texas, January 9.Google Scholar
  11. Duverger, Maurice. 1951. Les partis politiques. Paris: Colin.Google Scholar
  12. Fehr, Ernst, and Urs Fischbacher. 2003. “The Nature of Human Altruism.” Nature 425:785–791.Google Scholar
  13. Freudenthal, Hans. 1960. LINCOS: Design of a Language for Cosmic Intercourse. Amsterdam: North Holland Publishing Company.Google Scholar
  14. Harrison, Albert A. 1997. After Contact: The Human Response to Extraterrestrial Life. New York: Plenum.Google Scholar
  15. Harrison, Albert A. 2013. “Cosmic Evolution, Reciprocity, and Interstellar Tit for Tat.” In Extraterrestrial Altruism, edited by Douglas A. Vakoch, 3–22. Heidelberg: Springer.Google Scholar
  16. McConnell, Brian. 2001. Beyond Contact: A Guide to SETI and Communicating with Alien Civilizations. Sebastopol, CA: O’Reilly Media.Google Scholar
  17. Merrill, Samuel, III. 1984. “A Comparison of Efficiency of Multialternative Electoral Systems.” American Journal of Political Science 28(1):23–48.Google Scholar
  18. Ollongren, Alexander. 2012. Astrolingistics: Design of a Linguistic System for Interstellar Communication Based on Logic. New York: Springer.Google Scholar
  19. Puxley, Phil. 1997. “Execution of Queue-scheduled Observations with the Gemini 8 m Telescopes.” In SPIE Proceedings, Vol. 3112, Telescope Control Systems II, edited by Hilton Lewis, 234–245.Google Scholar
  20. Reijnierse, J. Hans, and Jos A. M. Potters. 1998. “On Finding an Envy-free Pareto Optimal-Division” Mathematical Programming 83(2):291–311.Google Scholar
  21. Rousseau, Jean-Jacques. 1762. Du contrat social, ou Principes du droit politique. Amsterdam: M. M. Rey.Google Scholar
  22. Wilson, Stephen J. 1998. Fair Division Using Linear Programming. Preprint. Ames, IA: Department of Mathematics, Iowa State University.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.École de technologie supérieureQuébecCanada

Personalised recommendations