164 | Herbert Gintis on Game Theory, Evolution, and Social Rationality


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How human beings behave is, for fairly evident reasons, a topic of intense interest to human beings. And yet, not only is there much we don’t understand about human behavior, different academic disciplines seem to have developed completely incompatible models to try to explain it. And as today’s guest Herb Gintis complains, they don’t put nearly enough effort into talking to each other to try to reconcile their views. So that what he’s here to do. Using game theory and a model of rational behavior — with an expanded notion of “rationality” that includes social as well as personally selfish interests — he thinks that we can come to an understanding that includes ideas from biology, economics, psychology, and sociology, to more accurately account for how people actually behave.

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Herbert Gintis received his PhD in economics from Harvard University. After a long career as professor of economics at the University of Massachusetts, he is currently a professor at Central European University and an External Professor at the Santa Fe Institute. His book Schooling in Capitalist America, written with frequent collaborator Samuel Bowles, is considered a classic in educational reform. He has published books and papers on economics, game theory, sociology, evolution, and numerous other topics.

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