Thursday, July 20, 2017

Where Do Pro-Social Institutions Come From?

Where do ‘good’ or pro-social institutions come from? Why does the capacity for collective action and cooperative behaviour vary so much across the world today? How do some populations transcend tribalism to form a civil society? How have some societies gone beyond personal relations and customary rules to impersonal exchange and anonymous institutions? In short, how do you “get to Denmark”? I first take a look at what the “cultural evolution” literature has to say about it. I then turn to the intersection of economics and differential psychology.
Cultural Evolution
There’s been a revival of cultural explanations in economics. And by coincidence, there’s a coalition of biologists, anthropologists, and behavioural economists operating somewhat outside the mainstream of their professions under the umbrella of “cultural evolution. Most of them appear convinced that “neither psychology nor economics is currently theoretically well-equipped to explain the origins of institutions” [Henrich 2015]. In response they offer a unified theory of gene-culture co-evolution or dual inheritance theory which models ‘culture’ as a non-genetic Darwinian process. From “Culture & social behaviour”: 

No comments: