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Economic Rockstar

Jul 30, 2015

Herbert Gintis is Emeritus Professor of Economics at University of Massachusetts and visiting Professor at Central European University.

He is known for his theoretical contributions to sociobiology, especially altruism, cooperation, epistemic game theory and gene-culture co-evolution.

Herbert has a B.A and M.A in Mathematics but switched his PhD program at Harvard from mathematics to economics.

Professor Gintis was part of a group of economists who developed their ideas on a new economics which encompassed issues of alienation of labor, racism, sexism, and imperialism.

Herbert has worked extensively with economist Samuel Bowles, writing their landmark book, Schooling in Capitalist America.

One of Herbert’s latest books The Bounds of Reason emphasises the unification of economic theory with sociobiology and other behavioral sciences which, in the words of Nobel Prize-winning economist, Vernon L. Smith, “is firmly in the revolutionary tradition of David Hume (Convention) and Adam Smith (Sympathy)”.

In the episode you will learn:

  • about the importance of trans-disciplinary research and collaboration.
  • why economics is not the only social science that explains human behavior.
  • how biology, economics and sociology explain the behaviour of humans in different ways and which discipline is correct?
  • about the Ultimatum Game and how it shows the cooperative and non-cooperative behaviour of humans.
  • about the morality of humans and how we reciprocate kindness with kindness and unkindness with unkindness.
  • why reciprocity makes humans so successful as a species.
  • why some species have a symbiotic relationship with other species, which is not the same as reciprocity.
  • how we can fit all the human feelings together to form a multi-disciplinary approach to understanding human behavior.
  • why we always need a system to punish free-riders and non-cooperators.
  • how the future structure of the University can be seen at Arizona State University today.
  • why we need a new generation of thinkers and research centres who are trans-disciplinary.
  • what projects Professor Herbert Gintis is working on right now.
  • why morality controls politics and your vote will not make a difference.
  • how Herbert gets things done in terms of writing books and journal articles.
  • about Herbert’s disagreement with Nassim Nicholas Taleb.
  • why Herbert believes that macroeconomics is wrong and is in agreement with Taleb on that issue.
  • and much much more.

Links mentioned in this episode: