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Thursday, March 19, 2009

from Lawrence, Pub Philosophy Group, Sunday meeting: Homo Economicus + NEWS incl. Cercedilla Saturday

Short Essay by Ignacio: Richard looking for a room, Cercedilla this SATURDAY and Monica going on the Camino di Santiago




Dear friends,

This Sunday we are discussing Homo Economicus.

Ignacio kindly wrote us a short essay on the topic. In the meantime I have been asked to send you the following news:

---------------- from Ricahrd, rather urgent ------------------
Hello, Law
I was wondering whether anyone could help me. I am looking for a room. An absolute must is
a direct access to the Internet (no wi-fi as it does not work properly with a desktop, I have had some bad experience) and a possibility to have a satellite dish installed. This is as important as having access to the kitchen and the bathroom.
Thank you for your attention.
Richard

---------------- from Monica --------------------------------

Hello Lawrence,
this year, again, I´m going to the way of Santiago, from 9-April in Irun (Pais Vasco) to 19-April in Castro Urdiales (Santander).

If someone wants to go or more information, can send me e-mail. monicapelegrin11@hotmail.com

or see : http://caminodesantiago.consumer.es/los-caminos-de-santiago/del-norte/ (only in Spanish)

Thanks,
Monica


-------------- This SATURDAY going to CERCEDILLA -----------------

Kim wants to go to Cercedilla, the Calzada Romana and the Mirador, so we’re meeting at Renfe Nuevos Ministerios at 10.30am to catch the 11.09am train.

See you Saturday and Sunday

Take care

Lawrence


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Hi Lawrence,

Looking for possible interesting stuff about the topic and, unfortunately with minor success as you will see... Anyway, have a good extra holiday this week and, see you on Sunday!

Ignacio

Homo economicus



From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia



Homo economicus, or Economic human, is the concept in some economic theories of humans as rational and broadly self-interested actors who have the ability to make judgments towards their subjectively defined ends.

It is concerned with him solely as a being who desires to possess wealth, and who is capable of judging the comparative efficacy of means for obtaining that end.

Homo economicus is seen as "rational" in the sense that well-being as defined by the utility function is optimized given perceived opportunities.



"homo economicus" assumptions have been criticized by cross-cultural comparison. Have demonstrated that in traditional societies, choices people make regarding production and exchange of goods follow patterns of reciprocity which differ sharply from what the "homo economicus" model postulates. Such systems have been termed gift economy rather than market economy.

Economists Thorstein Veblen, John Maynard Keynes, Herbert Simon, stress uncertainty and bounded rationality in the making of economic decisions, rather than relying on the rational man who is fully informed of all circumstances impinging on his decisions. They argue that perfect knowledge never exists, which means that all economic activity implies risk.

Other critics, point to the excessive emphasis on extrinsic motivation (rewards and punishments from the social environment) as opposed to intrinsic motivation. For example, it is difficult if not impossible to understand how Homo economicus would be a hero in war or would get inherent pleasure from craftsmanship. Frey and others argue that too much emphasis on rewards and punishments can "crowd out" (discourage) intrinsic motivation: paying a boy for doing household tasks may push him from doing those tasks "to help the family" to doing them simply for the reward.

Another weakness is highlighted by sociologists, who argue that Homo economicus ignores an extremely important question, i.e., the origins of tastes and the parameters of the utility function by social influences, training, education, and the like. The exogeneity of tastes (preferences) in this model is the major distinction from Homo sociologicus, in which tastes are taken as partially or even totally determined by the societal environment (see below).

Further critics, learning from the broadly-defined psychoanalytic tradition, criticize the Homo economicus model as ignoring the inner conflicts that real-world individuals suffer, as between short-term and long-term goals (e.g., eating chocolate cake and losing weight) or between individual goals and societal values. Such conflicts may lead to "irrational" behavior involving inconsistency, psychological paralysis, neurosis, and/or psychic pain.

Some critics argue that a "naive" presentation of Homo Economicus model can result in a self-fulfilling prophecy. One possible case of this has been in the teaching of economics. Several research studies have indicated that those students who take economics courses end up being more self-centered than before they took the courses. For example, they are less willing to co-operate with the other player in a "prisoner's-dilemma"-type game.

Others argue that Homo economicus is a reasonable approximation for behavior within market institutions, since the individualized nature of human action in such social settings encourages individualistic behavior. Not only do market settings encourage the application of a simple cost/benefit calculus by individuals, but they reward and thus attract the more individualistic people. It can be difficult to apply social values (as opposed to following self-interest) in an extremely competitive market; a company that refuses to pollute (for example)

Scientific American Magazine - June 17, 2007

The Prospects for Homo economicus

Homo economicus is extinct, felled by the new sciences of behavioral economics and neuroeconomics, which have demonstrated that we are remarkably irrational creatures. Thousands of experiments in behavioral economics since Daniel Kahneman and Amos Tversky founded the field with their seminal 1979 paper, “Prospect Theory: An Analysis of Decision under Risk,” have demonstrated that most of us are highly loss averse. Specifically, most people will reject the prospect of a 50–50 probability of gaining or losing money, unless the amount to be gained is at least double the amount to be lost. That is, people feel worse about the pain of a loss than they feel better about the pleasure of a gain. Twice as badly, in fact.

As the potential for gains rose, fMRI study found increased activity in the mesolimbic and mesocortical dopamine systems (dopamine is a neurotransmitter substance associated with motivation and reward). As the potential for losses increased, they found decreasing activity in these same reward-sensitive areas. Interestingly, it appears that losses and gains are coded by the same brain structures—the ventromedial prefrontal cortex, associated with decision making and learning in the context of reward and punishment, and the ventral striatum, associated with learning, motivation and reward. Individual differences in loss aversion were predicted by how much more the brain was turned off by losses than it was turned on by gains.

This effect may be caused by differences in neurochemistry, which means that some of us may be hardwired to be high- or low-risk takers, translating into real-world financial prospects, both good and bad.







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from Lawrence, Pub Philosophy Group, Sunday meeting: Homo Economicus + NEWS incl. Cercedilla Saturday








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