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Evolutionary psychology, economic freedom, trade and benevolence

Author

Listed:
  • Levendis John

    (Associate Professor of Economics at Loyola University New Orleans, USA.)

  • Eckhardt Robert B.

    (Professor of Developmental Genetics and Evolutionary Morphology at Pennsylvania State University, USA.)

  • Block Walter

    () (Harold E. Wirth Eminent Scholar Endowed Chair and Professor of Economics at Loyola University New Orleans, USA.)

Abstract

Our thesis is that the reason many of us today are inclined toward socialism (explicit cooperation) and against laissez-faire capitalism (implicit cooperation) is because the first type of behavior was much more genetically beneficial during previous generations of our species. There is, however, a seemingly strong argument against this hypothesis: evidence from human prehistory indicates that trade (implicit cooperation) previously was widespread. How, then, can we be hard-wired in favor of socialism and against capitalism if our ancestors were engaged in market behavior in past millennia? Although trade which is self-centered and beneficial (presumably mutually beneficial to all parties in the exchange) did indeed appear hundreds of thousands of years ago, benevolence was established in our hard-wiring very substantially earlier, literally hundreds of millions of years ago, and is therefore far more deeply integrated into the human psyche.

Suggested Citation

  • Levendis John & Eckhardt Robert B. & Block Walter, 2019. "Evolutionary psychology, economic freedom, trade and benevolence," Review of Economic Perspectives, Sciendo, vol. 19(2), pages 73-94, June.
  • Handle: RePEc:vrs:reoecp:v:19:y:2019:i:2:p:73-94:n:1
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Benevolence; capitalism; evolutionary psychology; hard-wiring; profit and loss; selfishness;

    JEL classification:

    • Z1 - Other Special Topics - - Cultural Economics
    • Z10 - Other Special Topics - - Cultural Economics - - - General

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