Alterity, the Trick that Builds Up a Human Society: The Day that Tomasello Met Economics—A Concept Paper

Alterity, the Trick that Builds Up a Human Society: The Day that Tomasello Met Economics—A Concept Paper

Smărăndița Tapalagă Gheorghincă (Heidelberg University, Germany) and Elena Druica (University of Bucharest, Romania)
Copyright: © 2012 |Pages: 11
DOI: 10.4018/ijabe.2012010101
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Abstract

This article relates two highly important views on the social characteristics of Humans: Michael Tomasello’s theory regarding the evolutionary difference between nonhuman and human primates and the Human portrait, as seen by Economics. Never before considered together, these two ideas agree and sustain each other. Tomasello´s common psychological infrastructure of shared intention and attention finds reason into the normativity circumscribing economic behavior, where fairness, morality and justice prevail. Correlatively, integrating alterity into one´s utility calculations, observed by Economics, reminds of Tomasello´s self-other equivalence and prosocial motivation as key features of building a human society. Finally, altruism, encompassed effortlessly into Human Behavior, is the fundament of social exchange and evolution.
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Space Odyssey 2001: Or Why Tomasello Thinks Those Apes Could Never Build A Satellite

A rocky, deserted place. Few apes wondering around and joggling into what seems to be an incoherent organisation. In the next “days”, one grabs a stick and starts using it as a war tool. His group imitates the action and so the battle emerges, armed apes at one side and unarmed at the other. Too soon to understand the power of the stick, the unarmed apes collapse under the hit. And so some die before learning. Consequently, the rest remained alive capitulate and learn the trick. And that’s pretty much how it goes, this evolution thing. The survival of the best or, in Darwin’s own words, of the fittest (Delamoir, 2009). And, if plants, fish and animals get around smoothly due to the colour of their layouts or the built-in “weapons” as poison or endurance, the more evolved species had benefited both of the natural ruling above their environmental fellows and of the limitations that a bigger brain and weaker body brought to their biped posture. Consequently, when prodders threaten primates, “the fittest” becomes “the smartest”, as inventiveness, cooperation, discovery, environment manipulation or artefacts are evolutionary ways to compensate the body weaknesses. From these facilities to highly organised social networks the steps succeed rapidly, once the foundation for cooperation has been tuned-in.

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