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Opportunism

Pizzabeak

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#1
What's the general consensus on "opportunistic behavior" in society? It could be related to a capitalistic mindset. From wiki:
"Opportunism is the conscious policy and practice of taking advantage of circumstances – with little regard for principles or with what the consequences are for others. Opportunist actions are expedient actions guided primarily by self-interested motives. The term can be applied to individual humans and living organisms, groups, organizations, styles, behaviours, and trends.

Opportunism or "opportunistic behavior" is an important concept in such fields of study as biology, transaction cost economics, game theory, ethics, psychology, sociology and politics."

It's normal animal behavior, probably seen and developed since before the days of dinosaurs, in any kingdom. Yet, as humans, we have a choice (like going vegan). Do opportunists have no guilt or shame? What do you think?
 
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#2
I think it's a question of morals, ethics and the time available to apply morals and ethics to your decision making.

The world for the most part is not dog eat dog, in a dog eat dog world opportunism could keep you alive and could be seen then as a good thing, even in sport where it's you or the other guy opportunism is usually seen as a good thing. As you move away from moments of intense "me or the other guy" situations things like gentlemanly conduct, honorable action, playing in the spirit of the game, etc. comes into it - the more choice you have and the more time you have to make that choice the more morality and ethics come into it. You often hear people talk about horribly immoral and unethical things happening in the "heat of battle", often these are excused and understood as somewhat necessary when no other alternatives were present or there wasn't enough time to consider your options - how many hours a day do you spend in the "heat of the battle"?, usually we have a fair amount of time to deliberate on what course of action to take or when certain courses of action will be implemented e.g. terms of engagement in war, a case going to trial before punishment is dished out, etc. When you have a lot of time it's usually considered wise to conduct yourself morally and ethically.
 
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#3
There are also times when wise people act unwisely because the pay-off to them at the time seems more rewarding than maintaining their moral and ethical standards, for example, say a married man has the opportunity to bed a model or some other female he has fantasized about - should he or shouldn't he? Does he have the power to override his instincts? Is his moral and ethical code greater than his instincts? An opportunist would say you take any opportunity regardless of who gets hurt, winning is winning, the early bird gets the worm, first in first served, you only live once, etc. People with moral and ethical fiber have the capacity to decline opportunities for whatever reason they feel the need to do so i.e. self-respect, to not harm others, to remain a respectable member of society, etc. An opportunist would take the opportunity with the lady, someone with a strong moral constitution wouldn't.
 

Pizzabeak

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#4
There are also times when wise people act unwisely because the pay-off to them at the time seems more rewarding than maintaining their moral and ethical standards, for example, say a married man has the opportunity to bed a model or some other female he has fantasized about - should he or shouldn't he? Does he have the power to override his instincts? Is his moral and ethical code greater than his instincts? An opportunist would say you take any opportunity regardless of who gets hurt, winning is winning, the early bird gets the worm, first in first served, you only live once, etc. People with moral and ethical fiber have the capacity to decline opportunities for whatever reason they feel the need to do so i.e. self-respect, to not harm others, to remain a respectable member of society, etc. An opportunist would take the opportunity with the lady, someone with a strong moral constitution wouldn't.
That's just Gawain & the Green Knight from the 14th century. Apparently, if you don't have a bad memory, things stick to your conscious until the grave, you can't escape.

From my experience, most people utilize "opportunism". It's fast. Lead Ti doesn't automatically mean deep thought, aux or tertiary Ti can consider as well. If someone drops money you can pick it up and keep it or if you saw them drop it, return it even. It's like interviewing for a job, that mindset, everyone wants to "win".

Whatever position at the top you're in, people won't stop trying to take it. You don't notice it until you do.

It isn't just trying to "provoke a response" or being as snarky as possible to "bully" people out of the picture. Think, political assassinations and the like. There's no real reason to believe that after a certain point in history, things changed and people were "smarter", so that only listening and regurgitating what your favorite groups say means it's the truth. Species go extinct daily, but this doesn't mean the universe is a hologram that goes on forever, so that all things play out. Even if it does there's no guarantee that you'll "live forever" in the multiverses; there's some indication that we only get this one consciousness in this life and once it bleeps, you can't experience the other ones.

People are running out of, not even originality, but things to do, let alone say. It's so bad.
 

Polaris

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#5
Yes, opportunistic behaviour is part of our animal nature, but because humans have developed societies (first world) where opportunism is no longer an absolute necessity, we consider it anti-progressive. There are people who are genuine empaths and there are people who are not. The world seems divided between the two. I could go into this in detail, but it seems superfluous....something something broken family units, etc...you can complete the paragraph for yourselves.

Kinda like the current zeitgeist is suffering from a massive case of cognitive dissonance or something, it's almost palpable.

Of course, there are degrees of opportunism...it's not all bad.
 
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#6
Subconsciously, people think: "How will this benefit me? Is the effort that I put in going to be rewarded? Is it worth it?" It could be as simple as going to a party or befriending someone. It might also take form of a mutual benefit situations such as employment or businesses capitalizing off other businesses. When there comes a point where someone stops benefitting from an interaction or investment, the opposite can happen.

In social situations, the "I scratch your back, you scratch mine" determines if interaction is worth it. Some people don't bother in social situations if they don't find any type of gain to be received. I'm not saying all people are like this. In fact, the people that go against the opportunistic mindset are the ones that I would call selfless. They think of others, regardless if they benefit from the situation or not. There are so many tangents I can go with this but then I would derail the thread.

There's probably a line somewhere, when opportunism meets ethics and morals too. Everyone's value system is different. When people act on an opportunity, they might weigh it against their own value system before acting.
 
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#7
Some opportunist might feel guilt, some others won´t. The same with some situations. I´d rather ask one person at the time. No generalizing, no conclusions.
To me opportunism is just a label.
Why do you think a person would take the choice of not getting advantage from others? (not a rethorical question)
 

Pizzabeak

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#8
Some opportunist might feel guilt, some others won´t. The same with some situations. I´d rather ask one person at the time. No generalizing, no conclusions.
To me opportunism is just a label.
Why do you think a person would take the choice of not getting advantage from others? (not a rethorical question)
And a fine label it is, to get the point across in a categorized manner. I don't think they won't take the opportunity. It's less so about receiving than it is about taking or stealing, let alone giving. It must be a satisfaction thing. Ask yourself: why would anyone want to kill Superman? Batman? Why does Spider-Man have villains? What about Wolverine? It really boils down to, what do people get out of killing Jesus? On Joseph being sold by his brothers: "He recognized his brothers but they did not recognize him."
 
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#9
Why do you think a person would take the choice of not getting advantage from others? (not a rethorical question)
Preservation of conscience, fear of retribution, abstinence from the dog-eat-dog realms, belief in earning things by your own merit, respect for social agreements, pursuit of the pride and fulfillment that comes from self-reliance and independence, compassion for others, empathy for those less skilled at opportunistic tactics, respect for equality, etc.
 
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#10
I think it's a question of morals, ethics and the time available to apply morals and ethics to your decision making.

The world for the most part is not dog eat dog, in a dog eat dog world opportunism could keep you alive and could be seen then as a good thing, even in sport where it's you or the other guy opportunism is usually seen as a good thing. As you move away from moments of intense "me or the other guy" situations things like gentlemanly conduct, honorable action, playing in the spirit of the game, etc. comes into it - the more choice you have and the more time you have to make that choice the more morality and ethics come into it. You often hear people talk about horribly immoral and unethical things happening in the "heat of battle", often these are excused and understood as somewhat necessary when no other alternatives were present or there wasn't enough time to consider your options - how many hours a day do you spend in the "heat of the battle"?, usually we have a fair amount of time to deliberate on what course of action to take or when certain courses of action will be implemented e.g. terms of engagement in war, a case going to trial before punishment is dished out, etc. When you have a lot of time it's usually considered wise to conduct yourself morally and ethically.
It basically is dog eat dog, saying that opportunism is good is relative, and to talk of semantics, so it's only referring to that certain instance. On the whole each organism would want the best for itself. It was Nietzsche who said when fighting evil you have to make sure not to become evil yourself. It's moreso about pushing the limits of the organism to max to see if there's any extra untapped potential. Once it became possible to use tools that became a requirement to succeed and live to pass on your seed.
 
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#11
If it is dog eat dog most dogs get eaten in a pretty civilized manner i.e. I am happy to pay this price for the reward I perceive to be getting in return, I will respect peoples right to refuse, I will obtain informed consent, you scratch this much of my back I'll scratch this much of yours, etc. Modern day commerce and the free market make sure dog-eat-dog tactics don't profit, those and the protections and laws that are in place to ensure fair trade, professional standards and the stabilization of the marketplace itself - so too the need for consent in regard to sexual relations.

I can see how if you're trying to come up in the ghetto or lift yourself out of poverty the dog eating is less civilised but as I said, for the most part, transactions are done in a pretty civilized manner thus allowing one to conduct ones business in a more ethical and moral manner. If all the systems in place that allow business to be done in a civilised manner fell away into a world of lawlessness then sure, we would be back to all out dog-eat-doggedness but the fact remains if you act in a manner reflective of someone with a dog-eat-dog attitude it probably won't be long before the system puts you in a cage or the bigger dogs, those that guard the code of conduct for the civilised world, gang up on you al la the West Vs Bin Laden for example.

Deep down we do have primitive urges i.e. survival instincts, competition for mates, etc. but in civilisation these are moderated, sublimated, re-channelled, etc. If they aren't then cages await.
 
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#12
That was one of the main points, I didn’t mean or intend to convey that because of it, businesses don’t profit. Capitalism is basically dog eat dog, and people who run companies or become entrepreneurs typically make the most money. More income doesn’t mean less problems by default.

People still exercise subtle behavior, dubbed “civilization”, to implement it so. It’s more a question of whether each action is done using opportunism or basic animal urges, instead of any extra reasoning or critical thinking, even skepticism or Occam’s razor. You can’t just rely on past experience too much, a pure intelligence is adapting to situations quicker.
 
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#13
In the exchange of goods and services win-win scenarios are more likely to bring success, especially long term, than ones that kill a dog in the process.

For vendors, businesses, companies, etc. competition for market share could be seen as dog eat dog but that's more a by product of having a supply that better satisfies the demand e.g. more efficiently, at a lower price, etc. as opposed to one holding a gun to the others head or one storming the others ship and stealing their treasure.

You could argue opportunism is beneficial for identifying and adapting to market trends, advances in technology, etc , things entrepreneurs and CEO's etc are typically good at, as to allow adaptations in the business model to occur but this all happens within a legal and ethical framework so in that sense I would say it's the ethical and lawful eating of dogs.

Wealth creation is essentially taking from other dogs to fatten yourself as a dog if you want to see it that way but the playing field in a lawful marketplace is the same for everybody.

I should acknowledge too that not everyone comes to the market with the same opportunities and starting capital which intensifies the perception of it being dog eat dog.
 

Serac

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#14
Thing is – in order to have shame, one has to learn what to have shame about in the first place. That's probably a matter of upbringing. How are people brought up nowadays? Well, they are taught some abstract principles created by academics, the Frankfurt School and whatnot, but very few values that apply down on earth, in the mud of real life. So I see these cases over and over again where people lecture me on some abstract cosmic social justice nonsense, and a bit later I see them stab friends in the back and treat people around them like dirt – most likely without even realizing it.
 
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#15
Interesting point, empathy probably has more to do with it then the management of shame. Doing onto others as you would have them do onto you kind of thing. Your ability to empathise and put yourself in the shoes of those you are considering commiting acts against that could be classified as shameful within whatever system of judgement you use i.e. Buddhism, Christianity, Thug-Life, etc.

Acknowledging on a deeper level we are all in this game together rather then agents competing against each other tends to destroy any rationale and justification for excessive participation in the market. This and our perception of how much we really need to be happy from a materialistic perspective.

Our rationales and justifications, cosmic, personal or cultural, tend to exist simply to abate feelings of guilt or the scorn of detractors. Empathy and compassion tend to release the need for any rationales or justifications i.e. don't eat me and I won't eat you, you scratch my back and I'll scratch yours, etc.

Your post suggests you see a lot of wolves in sheeps clothing, I would say empathy decides how sheep-like or wolf-like agents are and that it is an unavoidable feature of interpersonal transaction that wolves can fleece sheep with the remedy possibly being for the empathetic to "be wise as serpents" as per Matthew 10:16 - “Behold, I am sending you out as sheep in the midst of wolves, so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves."
 
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