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Evolutionary Psychology Meets Economics
on May 25, 2013
Seabright brings our understanding of economics to a deeper level by rooting it not just in a natural desire to trade but in the ability - developed over the last ten thousand years - to trust our fate to outsiders. Humans have developed institutions to increase our material well-being based on the knowledge that if I do my job, you will do yours, and together we could prosper. He replaces Adam Smith's 'self-interest' with the idea of 'tunnel vision' that allows us all to function within a division of labor and a system of market exchanges. Unfortunately, this advantage brings its own disadvantage in that excessive tunnel vision permits us to lose sight of the bigger picture, and thus fail to protect ourselves against such problems as over-speculative financial activities, environmental degradation, etc. Government is not necessarily the cure because those engaged in governmental institutions suffer from the same tunnel vision. The challenge is to create institutions to solve problems by enhancing our trust - within and among nations. So while Seabright presents no game-changing answers to our problems, he puts the questions themselves on a different footing by focusing on the advantages and the fragility of trust.