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The evolution of morality and the end of economic man

Listed author(s):
  • Geoffrey Hodgson

    ()

1871 saw the publication of two major treatises in economics, with self-seeking economic man at their center. In the same year Darwin published The Descent of Man, which emphasized sympathy and cooperation as well as self-interest, and contained a powerful argument that morality has evolved in humans by natural selection. Essentially this stance is supported by modern research. This paper considers the nature of morality and how it has evolved. It reconciles Darwin’s notion that a developed morality requires language and deliberation (and is thus unique to humans), with his other view that moral feelings have a long-evolved and biologically-inherited basis. The social role of morality and its difference with altruism is illustrated by an agent-based simulation. The fact that humans combine both moral and selfish dispositions has major implications for the social sciences and obliges us to abandon the pre-eminent notion of selfish economic man. Economic policy must take account of our moral nature. Copyright Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2014

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File URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10.1007/s00191-013-0306-8
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Article provided by Springer in its journal Journal of Evolutionary Economics.

Volume (Year): 24 (2014)
Issue (Month): 1 (January)
Pages: 83-106

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Handle: RePEc:spr:joevec:v:24:y:2014:i:1:p:83-106
DOI: 10.1007/s00191-013-0306-8
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  1. Peter Matthews & Jeffrey Carpenter, 2002. "Why Punish: Social Reciprocity and the Enforcement of Prosocial Norms," Middlebury College Working Paper Series 0213, Middlebury College, Department of Economics.
  2. Lopes, Helena & Santos, Ana C. & Teles, Nuno, 2009. "The motives for cooperation in work organizations," Journal of Institutional Economics, Cambridge University Press, vol. 5(03), pages 315-338, December.
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  5. Jerry Evensky, 2005. "Adam Smith's Theory of Moral Sentiments: On Morals and Why They Matter to a Liberal Society of Free People and Free Markets," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 19(3), pages 109-130, Summer.
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  7. Jeffrey Carpenter & Peter Hans Matthews, 2007. "What Norms Trigger Punishment," Middlebury College Working Paper Series 0708, Middlebury College, Department of Economics.
  8. Andreoni, James, 1995. "Cooperation in Public-Goods Experiments: Kindness or Confusion?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 85(4), pages 891-904, September.
  9. Viktor J. Vanberg, 2008. "The Economics of Moral Preferences," American Journal of Economics and Sociology, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 67(4), pages 605-628, October.
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  11. Herbert Gintis, 2000. "Strong Reciprocity and Human Sociality," UMASS Amherst Economics Working Papers 2000-02, University of Massachusetts Amherst, Department of Economics.
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