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How Sapient is Homo Economicus? The Evolutionary Origins of Trade, Ethics and Economic Rationality

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  • Basu, Kaushik

    (Cornell University)

  • Guha, Ashok

    (Indian Statistical institute, New Delhi)

Abstract

The paper argues that economism and, in particular, the individual drive to maximize utility and amass profit are not enough to ensure the efficient functioning of an economy; and that even for elementary economic activities, such as trade, exchange and contracting to occur smoothly, it is essential that human beings be endowed with appropriate social norms, such as a critical level of trustworthiness. This, in turn, implies that an economy's development can depend significantly on whether the citizenry is endowed with the relevant norms. Where these norms come from and how they gather stability remain open questions, though we can get some important insights from theories of evolutionary processes.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Cornell University, Center for Analytic Economics in its series Working Papers with number 09-14.

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Date of creation: Sep 2009
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Handle: RePEc:ecl:corcae:09-14

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  1. Basu, Kaushik, 2003. "Prelude to Political Economy: A Study of the Social and Political Foundations of Economics," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, Oxford University Press, number 9780199261857, October.
  2. Guiso, Luigi & Sapienza, Paola & Zingales, Luigi, 2000. "The Role of Social Capital In Financial Development," CEPR Discussion Papers, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers 2383, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  3. Kahneman, Daniel & Tversky, Amos, 1979. "Prospect Theory: An Analysis of Decision under Risk," Econometrica, Econometric Society, Econometric Society, vol. 47(2), pages 263-91, March.
  4. Ellingsen, Tore & Johannesson, Magnus, 2006. "Pride and Prejudice: The Human Side of Incentive Theory," CEPR Discussion Papers, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers 5768, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  5. Guiso, Luigi & Sapienza, Paola & Zingales, Luigi, 2006. "Does Culture Affect Economic Outcomes?," CEPR Discussion Papers, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers 5505, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  6. Basu, Kaushik, 2009. "Altruism, Other-Regarding Behavior and Identity: The Moral Basis of Prosperity and Oppression," Working Papers, Cornell University, Center for Analytic Economics 09-06, Cornell University, Center for Analytic Economics.
  7. Basu, Kaushik & Weibull, Jörgen W., 2002. "Punctuality - A Cultural Trait as Equilibrium," Working Paper Series, Research Institute of Industrial Economics 582, Research Institute of Industrial Economics.
  8. Tversky, Amos & Kahneman, Daniel, 1991. "Loss Aversion in Riskless Choice: A Reference-Dependent Model," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, MIT Press, vol. 106(4), pages 1039-61, November.
  9. Greif, Avner, 1993. "Contract Enforceability and Economic Institutions in Early Trade: the Maghribi Traders' Coalition," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, American Economic Association, vol. 83(3), pages 525-48, June.
  10. Basu, Kaushik, 1994. "The Traveler's Dilemma: Paradoxes of Rationality in Game Theory," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, American Economic Association, vol. 84(2), pages 391-95, May.
  11. Ar. Rubinstein., 2008. "Dilemmas of an Economic Theorist," VOPROSY ECONOMIKI, N.P. Redaktsiya zhurnala "Voprosy Economiki", N.P. Redaktsiya zhurnala "Voprosy Economiki", vol. 11.
  12. Kagel, John H, et al, 1975. "Experimental Studies of Consumer Demand Behavior Using Laboratory Animals," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, Western Economic Association International, vol. 13(1), pages 22-38, March.
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