Evolution & Morality

Towards the unification of the behavioral sciences
Professor Herbert Gintis (New Mexico, USA / Budapest, Hungary)

Despite their distinct objects of study, the human behavioral sciences all include models of individual human behavior. Unity in the behavioral sciences requires that there be a common underlying model of individual human behavior, specialized and enriched to meet the particular needs of each discipline. Such unity does not exist, and cannot be easily attained, because the various disciplines have incompatible models and disparate research methodologies. Yet, recent theoretical and empirical developments have created the conditions for unity in the behavioral sciences, incorporating core principles from all fields, and based upon theoretical tools that transcend disciplinary boundaries. This presentation sketches a set of principles aimed at fostering such a unity. They include: (1) geneculture co-evolution as a unifying dynamical tool; (2) evolutionary and behavioral game theory as transdisciplinary lexicons for communication and model-building; (3) the rational actor model, rooted in evolutionary biology but developed in economic theory, applied to all the human behavioral disciplines; and (4) the treatment of strategic dynamical systems as complex adaptive systems with emergent properties.

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