17 June 2022



Topic by Moinul` Zaber.

Essay by Lawrence


First a note about language. For a long time after the Second World War the word “collaborator” was a pejorative term and referred to French (but not only French) people who collaborated with the NAZIs during of occupation of France. Instead I shall use the term “cooperation” not necessarily because of the connection with the mid 20th century history but also because cooperation has been used for many centuries.


One of the most important uses of the term cooperation is the legal organisation called cooperatives. The idea is for the members of the cooperative achieve their goals by cooperating together. A business cooperative shares the profits among the members of the cooperative. One argument is that cooperatives were set up as a “rejection” to the idea of charity: maybe god helps those who help themselves.


There is no doubt, and I would argue, that the term “collaboration” has gained extensive use through the modern influence of American English and also through the interaction between native speakers of Latin based languages. You will remember that collaboration is colaboración in Spanish, collaboration in French and collaborazione in Italian. But what I consider the most important for the word collaboration to flourish is that European speakers are directly interacting with the English speak world. And collaboration seems to be the predominant term use in European languages.


Of course, all these European languages also have the term cooperation and collaboration is not exclusive to American English. The simple fact is that Americans use the term cooperative even in a business context with not much deviation from what we normally understand by cooperation. But this is an essay about the philosophy of the meaning of cooperation/collaboration.


Whether we look at the meaning of collaboration or cooperation we find such terms as “working together”, “common purpose” or “common goal” as the key terms for the meaning of cooperation or collaboration.


So what are the necessary and sufficient conditions to achieve cooperation? A general condition of cooperation is that it is rational, and maybe even moral, to cooperate with someone else to achieve a goal that would, otherwise, won’t be possible to achieve alone.


For example, if I want to build a table it makes more sense for me to by the wood from a wood merchant and the tools from an ironmonger and then make the table at home. Going through the relevant shops to make my table means that many people in the supply chain had to do their work properly so I can find the things I need to make a table. Without this cooperation nothing will happen, even considering that each person in the supply chain is there to make a living.


As the first cooperatives had discovered cooperation is not incompatible with personal survival. Cooperation is a win-win sum game. We can say that cooperation is a means to maximise our gains by grouping resources so everyone else in the group can maximise their gains. Zero sum games can only survive until someone else has a bigger stick or a bigger hammer to beat down the competition.


Of course, the drawbacks of cooperation are that whilst the cooperative can maximise their profits, our share is always equal to the other members of the cooperative. But this is not the compatible with someone disposed to being selfish or greedy. The real question is whether one should go it alone or stay in the group to maximise one’s gains?


We can look at the necessary and sufficient conditions of cooperation by look at the foundations of Doctor-Patient relationship. In a paper by Fallon E. Chipidza et al., Impact of the Doctor-Patient Relationship, the authors identify “Trust, knowledge, regard, and loyalty are the 4 elements that form the doctor-patient relationship,….” (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4732308/). By “regard” they mean respect. We can accept that a Doctor-Patient relationship is fundamentally a cooperation game.


Trust, in our context, is not just the patient trusting the doctor but also the doctor trusting the patient. It is reasonable to assume that doctors trust their patient that, the patient, is consulting the doctor in “good faith”. This means that the patient really believes they have a problem that requires the time and expertise of the doctor.


In the context of a cooperative (and a doctor’s office) we expect people to know what they are doing. A cooperative member of olive growers is expected to know how to collect olives and when to collect the olives. I would argue that knowledge confirms trust: helping to solve a problem for a patient can only mean that the patient trusts the doctor. And the patient knowing what they are experiencing can only help the doctor.


Without respect and loyalty, I would argue, there cannot be cooperation. The collective behaviour of the British government towards European partners is a disgraceful example of disrespect and disloyalty. In this geo-political game, the Tory party expected to win all the gains from leaving the EU, but in this zero sum game, so far the UK has achieved zero gains.


From the philosophical perspective, is cooperation/collaboration a long term solution for short term problems?


Best and take care



telephone/WhatsApp: 606081813

Email: philomadrid@gmail.com



No comments: