Monday, July 04, 2005

Oh Fuckin' A, Man

Dave Johnson at Seeing The Forest links to a very thorough Liberal Street Fighter post on the subject of conservative/neoliberal/libertarian economic theory, and how unrealistic it is:

Many of these experiments show that a basic tenet of economics - selfishness - does not explain behavior and choices, even economic ones. They find that humans - and some primates (our relatives) - act based on kindness, fairness, reciprocity, and community needs.

Finding that people are motivated by fairness, reciprocity, and communal needs is not surprising. We see people behave altruistically all the time - the fire fighers who rushed into the Twin Towers on 9-11 are not an aberration. So in this case our experience should at least push us to challenge what econ-talk tells us.

I’m not arguing for overturning all theory. But I am calling for experience-based rationality and disciplined, searching curiosity and critical thought.


It's good stuff.

For now, I'll just point out the irony. The Right has always ridiculed the Left (via the Marxist Left) for being too grimly determinist, yet it is -- and has always been -- the Right which sees the world in terms of an accountant's ledger. Worse, while they may in fact live down to their theory, they assume that everyone else does too, which is definitely not the case.

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