Saturday, March 20, 2010

What Makes People Fairer?

According to a new paper in Science, markets. Here's the paper, and in case you don't have access, here's an article in Reason about it. Yes, I know this is an atheist blog but I couldn't resist posting this for rationalists on the left side of the political spectrum.


Philippe said...

I don't have access to the paper, but I read the Reason article. It seems to me that the author is trying to spin this as free-market support. While the first blocked quote talked about "social norms and informal institutions" his commentary interpreted that as all about markets. I think the size and ubiquity of institutions is the issue in the first quote, not the nature of those institutions.

Furthermore, "markets" is a general term, not to be confused with "free markets" or any financial or political ideology. Yet it seems the Reason author wants to impose his own libertarian perspective by implying that this paper is somehow an indictment of communism, socialism, and fascism. I just don't see that from the portions he quoted, though maybe the original paper is more clear in other places.

I tend to be suspicious of any idealist interpreters of evidence, as generally they seem to seek evidence to support their worldview, rather than evaluate the evidence looking for reasons to change their worldview.

Michael Caton said...

You are correct in that this is less than a vindication of laissez faire arguments, but I still think it's telling that this mechanism had this effect in this study.