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econ434notes2 - History of Economic Doctrines Session 2...

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History of Economic Doctrines Session 2 Alternative Theories of Human Behavior (See Behavioral Economics for substantial elaboration.) R ELIGION : Our purpose on Earth is to do God’s will. Examples: medieval scholastics [Albertus Magnus and Thomas Aquinas]. Fundamentalist versions of Christianity, Islam, Orthodox Judaism, and numerous sects, … . B IOLOGY Evolution and Adaptation Charles Darwin – Survival of the Fittest [Inspired by Malthus?] Stephen Jay Gould – Adaptation and Mutation A NTHROPOLOGY: Issue: nature v. nurture : Are we hard-wired? How much of behavior is environmentally determined? How much is attributable to genetics? Nurture: Cultural Anthropologists Franz Boaz believed differences were a result of culture. Margaret Meade - wrote Coming of Age in Samoa; found societies where, e.g., women were the aggressive warriors while men cooked and tended children. This bolsters the nurture argument. Joseph Campbell: Myths, Rituals, and Symbols Nature: Eugenics Francis Galton ( 1822-1911) a statistician/philosopher who studied intelligence and contributed the word “regression” to the lexicon of statistics, originated eugenics as a serious movement. The term regression comes from Galton; as in “regression to the mean” (e.g., parents with above average IQs have children closer to the mean and parents with below average IQs have children with IQs closer to the mean). Eugenicists propose that breeding be limited to “superior” people, based on the argument that our behavior is determined more by nature [our genes] than by nurture. Some 1920's
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eugenicists studied family trees and concluded that ( 1 ) we shouldn’t allow members of certain families to breed [ex: Jukes and Kallikak families were dominantly petty criminals and on welfare] because it is bad for society, and ( 2 ) some people should be encouraged, perhaps. [Ex: the Lowell and Holmes families that generated numerous writers and prominent judges, etc., in New England.] Eugenicists were briefly successful in getting a few states to enact laws requiring sterilization for some welfare recipients or those deemed mentally incompetent, but between the 1940s and 1970s, eugenics became equated with Nazism and racism, and so it fell into disrepute. Aside:
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