Title of the new book by Michael Shermer. Here he is at the Cato Institute speaking on the book. Nice talk. It is an overview of the new fields of behavioral economics, neuro-economics, and evolutionary economics. (I’m reading a very good book on evolutionary morality right now).
Shermer says that one of the deficits (sorry bad pun intended) of the classical theory of economics was its assumption that the individual is a rational self-motivated, quasi-omniscient (at least in terms of what is self-beneficial) figure. These new theories have looked into ways of how people actually respond to markets rather than how they should in a rational thought-experiment driven situation.
What follows then is grounding market principles less in notions of “competition” or “greed” per se (i.e. a misreading of the selfish gene, Gordon Gecko style), but rather highlighting the intrinsic elements of reciprocity, empathy, emotional attunement, and co-operation built from the bottom up. Not the markets treated like a god descended “naturally” from the skies. But more in the style of communication, exchange, and historical development. It would be very interesting to compare this book with say Howard Bloom’s group selection meets economics tract: Reinventing Capitalism.