Q217. Sociologists and anthropologists gripe endlessly about rational actor models, failing, over and over again, to understand that they are MODELS, not descriptions. Explicate and comment on this passage to show that you understand what the value of a model like prisoner's dilemma is for social theory.

The Cooperation Theory that is presented…is based upon an investigation of individuals who pursue their own self-interest without the aid of a central authority to force them to cooperate with each other. The reason for assuming self-interest is that it allows an examination of the difficult case in which cooperation is not completely based upon a concern for others or upon the welfare of the group as a whole. It must, however, be stressed that this assumption is actually much less restrictive than it appears. … So the assumption of self interest is really just an assumption that concern for others does not completely solve the problem of when to cooperate with them and when not to (Axelrod 1984: 177.2).


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