Economists for centuries have struggled to understand the self-other relationship and its implications for economic life. For economists in the classical tradition of Adam Smith, this was a central question regarding the wealth and flourishing of nations. Later, as this volume demonstrates, the relationship of the self to others was forgotten as economics became associated almost exclusively with the pursuit of what Peter Boettke and Daniel Smith describe as "ruthless efficiency."
In the wake of the 2008 financial crisis and a growing body of experimental and empirical evidence showing the predictive shortcomings of narrow self-interest models, a more capacious economics has recently reemerged. Reimagining the economic problem to include what Samuel Bowles and Herbert Gintis refer to as "the evolution of human cooperation," growing numbers of economists are investigating the relationship between self-regarding and other-regarding preferences. The essays by Bowles and Gintis, Boettke and Smith, and Robert Garnett are part of this reimagining and remind us that an economics in which actors are assumed to be entirely self-regarding is at odds with evidence about how people actually behave.
Copyright © 2015, Routledge Taylor & Francis Group. This chapter first appeared in Commerce and Community: Ecologies of Social Cooperation.
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Peart, Sandra J. "Comment: Entering the 'great school of self-command': The moralizing influence of markets, language, and imagination." In Commerce and Community: Ecologies of Social Cooperation, edited by Robert Garnett Jr., Paul Lewis, and Lenore T. Ealy, 77-81. New York: Routledge Taylor & Francis Group, 2015.