Are humans at their core seekers of their own pleasure or cooperative members of society? Paradoxically, they are both. Pleasure-seeking can take place only within the context of what works within a defined community, and central to any community are the evolved codes and principles guiding appropriate behavior, or morality. The complex interaction of morality and self-interest is at the heart of Geoffrey M. Hodgson’s approach to evolutionary economics, which is designed to bring about a better understanding of human behavior.
In From Pleasure Machines to Moral Communities, Hodgson casts a critical eye on neoclassical individualism, its foundations and flaws, and turns to recent insights from research on the evolutionary bases of human behavior. He focuses his attention on the evolution of morality, its meaning, why it came about, and how it influences human attitudes and behavior. This more nuanced understanding sets the stage for a fascinating investigation of its implications on a range of pressing issues drawn from diverse environments, including the business world and crucial policy realms like health care and ecology.
This book provides a valuable complement to Hodgson’s earlier work with Thorbjørn Knudsen on evolutionary economics in Darwin’s Conjecture, extending the evolutionary outlook to include moral and policy-related issues.