Why economics needs a new invisible hand
In this clip Hartmann interviews David Sloan Wilson on his new article by the above name. A new economics needs a new foundation from the typical and shopworn invisible hand proposed by Adam Smith. That new hand is applying evolutionary theory to the topic. David S. Wilson is SUNY Distinguished Professor of Biology and Anthropology at Binghamton University and Arne Næss Chair in Global Justice and the Environment at the University of Oslo. His most recent book is Does Altruism Exist?
From the article: “Evolutionary theory makes it crystal clear that the unregulated pursuit of self-interest is often toxic for the common good. This conclusion becomes especially strong when we conceptualize self-interest in relative rather than absolute terms, a distinction that separates much evolutionary thinking from much economic thinking. When we absorb the fact that “life is graded on a curve” as the evolutionary economist Robert Frank puts it, then we can see that nearly all cooperative efforts require time, energy, and risk on the part of the cooperative individuals that place them at a relative disadvantage compared to less cooperative… Read more »
“One of the great discoveries of evolutionary science during the last few decades is that this theoretical framework, called multilevel selection theory, can be applied to the evolution of our own species. […] We must learn to function in two capacities: As designers of large-scale social systems and as participants in the social systems that we design. As participants, we don’t need to have the welfare of the whole system in mind, but as designers we do. There is no way around it. Anything short will result in social dysfunction.”