Why is this utilitarian calculus wrong? Or is it?
score: 1 (1 votes) ·
I think the calculus is correct, in the "non-iterated" game. The conclusion is correct in the same sense that it would be even better to donate $101 and come back the next day with a black sock on your head and steal a widget.
There's just something about the iterated exercise of mixing up donations and transactions that you don't like, and I share that intuition. I think in my case I feel that their strategy of selling at a high price discourages other potential transactions from people that value the widget between $20 and $100 and don't care about who's selling it. And I am particularly sensitive about taking advantage of the simple win-win opportunities first. Or maybe I just dislike the lack of transparency of dressing up the donation as a purchase.
In my experience for many people it's the other way around. Many are much more willing to buy some useless product at a high price, a product that they value less than its producing cost, instead of just donating. I assume it's because they feel it's better to pay someone that's "working" for their money than to incentivize begging.