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Homo Moralis-Preference evolution under incomplete information and assortative matching

  • Alger, Ingela
  • Weibull, Jörgen

What preferences will prevail in a society of rational individuals when preference evolution is driven by their success in terms of resulting payoffs? We show that when individuals’ preferences are their private information, a convex combinations of selfishness and morality stand out as evolutionarily stable. We call individuals with such preferences homo moralis. At one end of the spectrum is homo oeconomicus, who acts so as to maximize his or her material payoff. At the opposite end is homo kantiensis, who does what would be “the right thing to do,†in terms of material payoffs, if all others would do likewise. We show that the stable degree of morality - the weight placed on the moral goal - equals the index of assortativity in the matching process. The motivation of homo moralis is arguably compatible with how people often reason, and the induced behavior agrees with pro-social behaviors observed in many laboratory experiments.

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Paper provided by LERNA, University of Toulouse in its series LERNA Working Papers with number 12.17.374.

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Date of creation: Feb 2012
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Handle: RePEc:ler:wpaper:26537
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  17. Becker, Gary S, 1976. "Altruism, Egoism, and Genetic Fitness: Economics and Sociobiology," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 14(3), pages 817-26, September.
  18. Dekel, Eddie & Ely, Jeffrey & Yilankaya, Okan, 2004. "Evolution of Preferences," Microeconomics.ca working papers dekel-04-08-13-01-21-07, Vancouver School of Economics, revised 09 Jun 2006.
  19. Joseph Henrich & Robert Boyd & Samuel Bowles & Colin Camerer & Ernst Fehr & Herbert Gintis & Richard McElreath & Michael Alvard & Abigail Barr & Jean Ensminger & Kim Hill & Francisco Gil-White & Micha, 2001. "Economic Man in Cross-Cultural Perspective: Behavioral Experiments in Fifteen Small-Scale Societies," Working Papers 01-11-063, Santa Fe Institute.
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  23. James C. Cox & Vjollca Sadiraj, 2012. "Direct Tests Of Individual Preferences For Efficiency And Equity," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 50(4), pages 920-931, October.
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