From Common Dreams: http://www.commondreams.org/view/2012/04/22
Published on Sunday, April 22, 2012 by Common Dreams
Republicans seem to have adopted the position that humans act always and only according to cold calculations of how to maximize their personal rewards and minimize their personal costs.
This economic theory, called Homo economicus, conceives of humans as maximizing individuals – knowledgeable, rational and selfish. It postulates that each person desires only his own profit and pleasure, always knows enough to determine his own best interest, and always reasons or calculates his benefit before acting, and that these individual decisions account for all social and economic organization – both societies and markets.
Critics have pointed out that real people do a lot of things a true Homo economicus would never do. Homo economicus would reason that it is pointless to vote, except against policies or politicians who threaten his personal rights or private gain, would see no reason to return a lost wallet, would never leave tips, volunteer to help neighbors, or serve their nation in the armed forces.
It’s pretty obvious that people don’t always and exclusively act in their own self-interest. Indeed, if they did we would have no families, no churches, no schools or governments, and probably no civilization at all.
Growing Artificial Societies: Social Science from the Bottom Up, Epstein & Axtell,1996, explores the premise that all social and economic organization – and the "invisible hand" that regulates markets – is based on individuals acting rationally for self-interest and asks the question, "Does the microworld of individual behaviors really add up to the macroworld of economics?"
The first Sugarscape was a landscape (computer screen) with little "agents" (red dots) and piles of sugar (yellow dots). The agents had behavioral rules about how they could move, and were given internal states: their "preference" was to find sugar and consume it. Those who found sugar "lived"; those who didn’t, "died".
Continue reading at: http://www.commondreams.org/view/2012/04/22