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Evolutionary psychology, economic freedom, trade and benevolence

Levendis John, Eckhardt Robert B. and Block Walter ()
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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.

Review of Economic Perspectives, 2019, vol. 19, issue 2, 73-94

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.

Keywords: Benevolence; capitalism; evolutionary psychology; hard-wiring; profit and loss; selfishness (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: Z1 Z10 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2019
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