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Evolutionary Economics and Human Nature

Evolutionary Economics and Human Nature

2515655
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Book DescriptionFor much of the twentieth century, mainstream economists have treated human agents in their models as if they were rational beings of unbounded computational capacity - the notorious ‘Homo Economicus’ of much economic theory. However, the patent inadequacies of this understanding of human nature have become increasingly apparent, and economists have begun looking for more realistic models, incorporating the insights of evolutionary theory.

The authors address the question of human nature in economics, examining not only some of the recent writing on this subject in evolutionary psychology and related disciplines, but also the ideas of important thinkers in the Western intellectual tradition. Beginning with the ancient Greeks and progressing to the modern day, the contributors explore the works of such thinkers as Augustine, Adam Smith, Thomas Malthus, Alfred Marshall and Kenneth Boulding.

Many of these works are placed in a Darwinian, evolutionary perspective, with the imperative that the study of human nature must be consistent with our understanding of human evolution, and should consider how human beings are molded by cultural and institutional influences. Naturally, Darwin’s own view of human nature is also explored, undermining the mistaken notion that Darwinism promotes human nature as greedy, uncooperative and self-seeking.

This enlightening, original and highly readable work will be of great interest to professional economists and students, researchers and teachers of evolutionary economics.