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Rationalizing the Irrational. The Principle of Relative Maximization from Sociobiology to Economics and Its Implications for Ethics

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Starting with the concept of “rational maximizing individual”, a meta-construct with foundational value in economics and, in general, in human sciences, the paper delineates the territory of an ethics of rationality. It does this by taking fulcrum in findings from evolutionary theory, in particular those regarding spiteful behavior. The paper formulates the principle of “differential fitness maximization”, as expression of relative maximization of fitness and derives its consequences, among which, a core set of normative propositions grounding the said ethics. Thus, the paper strengthens the backbone of the Western philosophical tradition which, in essence, always associated ethical conduct with reason and individualism.

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  • Boari, Mircea, 2007. "Rationalizing the Irrational. The Principle of Relative Maximization from Sociobiology to Economics and Its Implications for Ethics," ESSEC Working Papers DR 07004, ESSEC Research Center, ESSEC Business School.
  • Handle: RePEc:ebg:essewp:dr-07004
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    Keywords

    Evolutionary Ethics; Fitness; Normative Ethics; Rational Maximization; Spite;

    JEL classification:

    • A19 - General Economics and Teaching - - General Economics - - - Other
    • B52 - Schools of Economic Thought and Methodology - - Current Heterodox Approaches - - - Historical; Institutional; Evolutionary
    • C73 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Game Theory and Bargaining Theory - - - Stochastic and Dynamic Games; Evolutionary Games
    • D01 - Microeconomics - - General - - - Microeconomic Behavior: Underlying Principles
    • P00 - Economic Systems - - General - - - General
    • Z19 - Other Special Topics - - Cultural Economics - - - Other

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