Thursday, October 05, 2006

We Are All Socialists

Rational self interest, pshaw. So much for that piece of conservative faith. Toss that idea out the window. Human beings will act based on a morality of soldiarity over so called self interest any day. Its the same logic as sacrificing the Queen in chess.

Sense of justice discovered in the brain

Neuroscientists locate the brain area that switches on when humans act against their own best interests to punish unfairness

using a tool called the “ultimatum game”, researchers have identified the part of the brain responsible for punishing unfairness. Subjects were put into anonymous pairs, and one person in each pair was given $20 and asked to share it with the other. They could choose to offer any amount – if the second partner accepted it, they both got to keep their share.

In purely economic terms, the second partner should never reject an offer, even a really low one, such as $1, as they are still $1 better off than if they rejected it. Most people offered half of the money. But in cases where only a very small share was offered, the vast majority of "receivers" spitefully rejected the offer, ensuring that neither partner got paid.

"Self interest is one important motive in every human," says Fehr, "but there are also fairness concerns in most people."

"In other words, this is the part of the brain dealing with morality," says Herb Gintis, an economist at the University of Massachusetts in Amherst, US. "[It] is involved in comparing the costs and benefits of the material in terms of its fairness. It represses the basic instincts."

Psychologist Laurie Santos, at Yale University in Connecticut, US, comments: "This form of spite is a bit of an evolutionary puzzle. There are few examples in the animal kingdom." The new finding is really exciting, Santos says, as the DLPFC brain area is expanded only in humans, and it could explain why this type of behaviour exists only in humans.

So there goes a whole school of psuedo academia around Rational Choice studies in economics, sociology, politics,etc. Of course these are liberals who tried to embrace conservative ideologies after the collapse of the Soviet Union. Same folks who brought you the myth of market-socialism.

Adam Smith posited that rational self interest was in our best interest then he posited that economic relationships were not rational but based on the interferance of the invisible hand of the market, the consipracy of cartels and business to monopolize the market. The self interest we share to see justice done against the invisble hand is not always rational, but it is just.

Its about fairness. And fairness is not always in our selfish interests, but it is in our communal self interest.

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