Evolutionary psychology, economic freedom, trade and benevolence

John Levendis, Robert B. Eckhardt, Walter Block

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)73-94
Number of pages22
JournalReview of Economic Perspectives
Volume19
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Jun 1 2019

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All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Economics, Econometrics and Finance(all)

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