Samuel Bowles on Economics, Cooperation, and Inequality

21 Aug 2023 • 80 min • EN
80 min
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Blog post with transcript: Economics, much like thermodynamics, is a story of collective behavior arising from the interactions of many individual constituents. The big difference is that in economics, the constituents are themselves complicated human beings with their own goals and limitations. We can still make progress by positing some simple but plausible axioms governing human behavior, and proving theorems about what those axioms imply, such as the famous supply-and-demand curves. The trick is picking the right axioms that actually do apply to any given situation. Samuel Bowles is a highly regarded economist who has helped understand the emergence of political hierarchy and economic inequality, often drawing on wide-ranging ideas from game theory and evolutionary biology. We talk about how people evolved to cooperate, and why nevertheless inequality seems to be ubiquitous. Support Mindscape on Patreon. Samuel Bowles received a Ph.D. in economics from Harvard University. He has taught at Harvard University, the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, and the University of Siena, and he is currently Director of the Behavioral Sciences Program at the Santa Fe Institute. He has been awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship and the Leontief Prize, and is a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. He is one of the developers of the CORE Econ project.Web pageGoogle Scholar publicationsWikipediaAmazon author page See Privacy Policy at and California Privacy Notice at

From "Sean Carroll's Mindscape: Science, Society, Philosophy, Culture, Arts, and Ideas"

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