The Selfish Gene 30th anniversary

It’s Richard Dawkins’–The selfish-gene– 30th anniversary. For economists, being selfish is just as human as being able to communicate or trade. Lots of people (including social scientists) get passionate about how selfishness is the root evil of mankind. Lots of people (including highly educated people) get confused into thinking that “changing human nature from selfish to altruistic” is not only possible, but a worthwhile solution to mankind’s problems.

Being obnoxiously normative (hey, aren’t we all?), I would recommend two simple things to them: you should read Dawkins and then take a good introductory economics class.

But wouldn’t life be miserable and purpose-less if we are nothing but a bunch of cells accidentaly put together by self-selection in a god-less world? Dawkins replies:

“Presumably there is indeed no purpose in the ultimate fate of the cosmos, but do any of us really tie our life’s hopes to the ultimate fate of the cosmos anyway? Of course we don’t; not if we are sane. Our lives are ruled by all sorts of closer, warmer, human ambitions and perceptions. To accuse science of robbing life of the warmth that makes it worth living is so preposterously mistaken, so diametrically opposite to my own feelings and those of most working scientists, I am almost driven to the despair of which I am wrongly suspected.”

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