To say that this operates across cultures and thus validates "morality" is a non-sequitar. You need to define morality. Once you do -- assuming that you are an Objectivist -- you see that the trader mentality is different from the traditionalist taker who seeks to "punish" others for "immoral" behavior, as opposed to simply accepting gains and avoiding losses, which is the rational strategy of a self-interested person. Okay, fine (here it is) ...
Morality: Living code.
Rational Morality: Living code that furthers your life and happiness.
And now, Michael, you need to define the original aspects of a "person." I'm not talking about a graduate who majored in Eastern Philosophy -- you have to be "something" before you can accomplish THAT arduous task. This type of thing that you are, even in the "young" of primitive tribes in Africa, is a type of being that understands "fairness."
Small children -- who are without an explicitly-defined moral code -- already impose the trader principle on each other. Takers are shunned. Taking can't "take hold" among a young one (unless parents -- read: ARBITRARY POWER -- always pick up the slack for the lost values that Takers will always perpetuate on themselves because of the kind of creatures that we are).
And just because I said that humans are going to feel a certain way in a given situation, because of the type of creature that they are (note that the Game Theory research merely empirically-validates this philosophical position of mine), isn't to be taken as my "defense" of morality. See my 2 definitions above for insight into why this is true.
... you see that the trader mentality is different from the traditionalist taker who seeks to "punish" others for "immoral" behavior, as opposed to simply accepting gains and avoiding losses ...If you consistently made short-range deals with the Devil like this (if you consistently "accepted" injustices), then you wouldn't thrive as much as others (who didn't consistently take every deal short-range). I'm talking about an Evolutionary Stable Strategy, and I'm telling you that -- without the corruption of altruist-collectivist philosophy (which inescapably leads to a centralized and ARBITRARY POWER) -- "Taking" couldn't ever take hold among humans. It's because we're a certain way.
(Edited by Ed Thompson on 4/03, 6:39am)