Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Biology and the Invisible Hand?

There is an article in The Boston Globe about the scientific basis of altruism. (HT to Arts & Letters Daily) Evidently there is a controversy brewing in the field of biology about the reasons members of a species will help other members, often at their own expense.  One group argues for something called “kin selection” (helping other members of a genetically-related group) as a method of guaranteeing survival of genes. The other group argues for “group selection” (helping a more diverse group survive).

I am no biologist and I wouldn’t dream of saying there is or isn’t a connection between the biological and economic behaviors. But I see a parallel in the behavior of group selection and if there is a genetic pre-disposition to altruistic behavior in nature, then I would say the “invisible hand” would possibly be a stronger explanation of market behavior than it already is.

I would welcome any comments on this. I’d like to know if you see what I see or if I’m still recovering from fever and pharmaceuticals.

1 comment:

rjs said...

frances woolley at WCI has often tried to meld the two fields... example: http://worthwhile.typepad.com/worthwhile_canadian_initi/2010/11/the-evolutionary-case-for-cancer.html