Are people innately fair-minded or is it learned behavior? A fascinating new study, “Markets, Religion, Community Size, and the Evolution of Fairness and Punishment,” that is a big step toward resolving this question is being published today in the journal Science [subscription required]. The researchers find strong evidence that market institutions cause people to treat each other, especially, strangers more fairly. The research is based on the results of behaviorial experiments in 15 different societies which have varying amounts of integration into markets.
This is exactly the sort of argument that libertarian thinker and economics Nobelist Friedrich Hayek made, especially in his last book, The Fatal Conceit: The Errors of Socialism. Successful societies are those that adopt market norms and they tend over time to outcompete societies organized in more primitive top-down ways. The upshot is that efforts to extract people from markets (e.g., communism, socialism, fascism) encourage them to revert to the innate savagery of dealing fairly only with kin and fellow tribespeople.
Heretical and Not-So-Heretical Musings on Politics
Free Markets Make People More Fair
The Republican HereticA Republican and a Heretic, in multiple senses of both words. A small L libertarian conservative in the Midwest, concerned with limiting the size and power of government and halting the growth of the paternalistic progressive aristocracy. Interested in history, religion, and law, and policies dealing with the aforementioned. Will feature comments on stories or articles I find interesting, whether related to politics or anything else that catches my eye.
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