The notion of cooperation among non-related individuals has fallen into disrepute. Economists like Milton Friedman and the so-called Chicago School tout "the rational agent" as the sine qua non of economic behavior. The rational agent thinks only of self-interest. Greed is good, according to the Chicago School. The Invisible Hand of the marketplace may inadvertently steer the self-interested actor in the general direction of the common good, though not through any conscious effort by the agent. Any efforts to coerce the rational agent into altruistic action will be fought off and rejected.This says that the simplistic ideas of the conservatives simply don't work as a way to order society. Greed is NOT good, and people are hardwired from birth to work for the success of the group. Their reward will be recognition, not necessarily money or another economic reward. That's why people will risk death for a scrap of ribbon (Napoleon) or work for recognition rather than wealth.
What Fehr and his group, along with the Neuro-economists, are showing through empirical study is that people are hard-wired to cooperate. Self-interest is not a determined impulse in human beings. What people really have hard wired into their brains is a sense of justice and fair play, a capacity for nuturance of others –even non-kin others, a keen eye for in-group norms, and, surprisingly, a self-organizing tendency to make hierarchies.
Friday, December 29, 2006
This is the result of an economic game played as a study of human behavior. Go read the report of how the game was played and what the results were. Then look at these results.
Posted by Richard at 12:19 AM