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Altruism and Spite in a Selfish Gene Model of Endogenous Preferences

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  • Terence Burnham

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Abstract

Economists and biologists have long grappled with the apparent contradiction of altruism in a naturally-selected world. Standard economic models are built upon an assumption of material self-interest where agents maximize individual outcomes without regard for the effects on others. This paper begins with a brief discussion of the evidence that human behavior deviates from the economic assumption. With the goal of more accurately describing human nature, the interpersonal components of preferences are derived in a genetic model. This model predicts a variety of behaviors that are considered paradoxical within the standard economic framework. The optimal attitude towards others is parameterized by the genetic relationship between individuals and by the population size. For interactions between ‘average’ individuals, the standard economic assumption is the limiting case of the genetic model as the population becomes arbitrarily large. Copyright Kluwer Academic Publishers 2001

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File URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10.1023/A:1020569617214
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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by Springer in its journal Journal of Bioeconomics.

Volume (Year): 3 (2001)
Issue (Month): 2 (May)
Pages: 123-148

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Handle: RePEc:kap:jbioec:v:3:y:2001:i:2:p:123-148

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Web page: http://www.springerlink.com/link.asp?id=103315

Related research

Keywords: Darwin; evolution; co-operation; ultimatum;

References

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  1. Theodore C. Bergstrom, . "On the Evolution of Altruistic Ethical Rules for Siblings," ELSE working papers 017, ESRC Centre on Economics Learning and Social Evolution.
  2. Forsythe Robert & Horowitz Joel L. & Savin N. E. & Sefton Martin, 1994. "Fairness in Simple Bargaining Experiments," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 6(3), pages 347-369, May.
  3. Theodore C. Bergstrom & Oded Stark, 1994. "How Altruism Can Prevail in an Evolutionary Environment," Microeconomics 9401001, EconWPA.
  4. Schelling, Thomas C, 1978. "Altruism, Meanness, and Other Potentially Strategic Behaviors," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 68(2), pages 229-30, May.
  5. Hoffman, Elizabeth & McCabe, Kevin & Smith, Vernon L, 1996. "Social Distance and Other-Regarding Behavior in Dictator Games," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 86(3), pages 653-60, June.
  6. G. Bolton, 2010. "A comparative model of bargaining: theory and evidence," Levine's Working Paper Archive 263, David K. Levine.
  7. Guth, Werner & Schmittberger, Rolf & Schwarze, Bernd, 1982. "An experimental analysis of ultimatum bargaining," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 3(4), pages 367-388, December.
  8. Samuelson, Paul A, 1993. "Altruism as a Problem Involving Group versus Individual Selection in Economics and Biology," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 83(2), pages 143-48, May.
  9. Hoffman Elizabeth & McCabe Kevin & Shachat Keith & Smith Vernon, 1994. "Preferences, Property Rights, and Anonymity in Bargaining Games," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 7(3), pages 346-380, November.
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