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Profile: Herbert Gintis (Central European University)
  1. Robert Boyd, Samuel Bowles & Herbert Gintis, Cooperation, Reciprocity and Punishment in Fifteen Small- Scale Societies.
    Recent investigations have uncovered large, consistent deviations from the predictions of the textbook representation of Homo economicus (Roth et al, 1992, Fehr and Gächter, 2000, Camerer 2001). One problem appears to lie in economists’ canonical assumption that individuals are entirely self-interested: in addition to their own material payoffs, many experimental subjects appear to care about fairness and reciprocity, are willing to change the distribution of material outcomes at personal cost, and reward those who act in a cooperative manner while punishing (...)
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  2. Herbert Gintis (2014). Inclusive Fitness and the Sociobiology of the Genome. Biology and Philosophy 29 (4):477-515.
    Inclusive fitness theory provides conditions for the evolutionary success of a gene. These conditions ensure that the gene is selfish in the sense of Dawkins (The selfish gene, Oxford University Press, Oxford, 1976): genes do not and cannot sacrifice their own fitness on behalf of the reproductive population. Therefore, while natural selection explains the appearance of design in the living world (Dawkins in The blind watchmaker: why the evidence of evolution reveals a universe without design, W. W. Norton, New York, (...)
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  3. Herbert Gintis (2013). An Implausible Model and Evolutionary Explanation of the Revenge Motive. Behavioral and Brain Sciences 36 (1):21-22.
    McCullough et al.'s target article is a psychological version of the reputation models pioneered by biologist Robert Trivers (1971) and economist Robert Frank (1988). The authors, like Trivers and Frank, offer an implausible explanation of the fact that revenge is common even when there are no possible reputational effects. I sketch a more plausible model based on recent research.
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  4. Herbert Gintis (2013). Mutualism is Only a Part of Human Morality. Behavioral and Brain Sciences 36 (1):91-91.
    Baumard et al. mischaracterize our model of individual and social choice behavior. We model individuals who maximize preferences given their beliefs, and subject to their informational and material constraints (Fehr & Gintis 2007). Individuals thus must make trade-offs among self-regarding, other-regarding, and character virtue goals. Two genetic predispositions are particularly crucial. The first is strong reciprocity. The second is the capacity to internalize norms through the socialization process. Our model includes the authors' model as a subset.
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  5. Herbert Gintis (2013). Territoriality and Loss Aversion: The Evolutionary Roots of Property Rights. In Kim Sterelny, Richard Joyce, Brett Calcott & Ben Fraser (eds.), Cooperation and its Evolution. MIT Press. 117.
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  6. Herbert Gintis (2012). An Evolutionary and Behavioral Perspective. In Ryan Goodman, Derek Jinks & Andrew K. Woods (eds.), Understanding Social Action, Promoting Human Rights. Oup Usa. 135.
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  7. Herbert Gintis & Ernst Fehr (2012). The Social Structure of Cooperation and Punishment. Behavioral and Brain Sciences 35 (1):28-29.
    The standard theories of cooperation in humans, which depend on repeated interaction and reputation effects among self-regarding agents, are inadequate. Strong reciprocity, a predisposition to participate in costly cooperation and the punishment, fosters cooperation where self-regarding behaviors fail. The effectiveness of socially coordinated punishment depends on individual motivations to participate, which are based on strong reciprocity motives. The relative infrequency of high-cost punishment is a result of the ubiquity of strong reciprocity, not its absence.
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  8. Herbert Gintis (2011). The Future of Behavioral Game Theory. Mind and Society 10 (2):97-102.
    Behavioral economics has rejuvenated economic theory and deepened the bonds between economic theory and the other social sciences. Neoclassical economics does not depend on individual preferences being self-regarding. Moreover, in market contexts, laboratory experiments indicate that traditional theory works well. Behavioral economic findings thus enrich and expand neoclassical economics rather than undermining it. In particular, social norms are an emergent property of human sociality, and exist as macrosocial structures that are not reducible to the preferences of individuals. Behavioral economists are (...)
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  9. Herbert Gintis (2010). Modalities of Word Usage in Intentionality and Causality. Brain and Behavioral Sciences 33 (4):336-337.
    Moral judgments often affect scientific judgments in real-world contexts, but Knobe's examples in the target article do not capture this phenomenon.
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  10. Samuel Bowles, Herbert Gintis & Melissa Osborne Groves (eds.) (2008). Unequal Chances: Family Background and Economic Success. Princeton University Press.
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  11. Herbert Gintis (2008). Review of J. McKenzie Alexander, The Structural Evolution of Morality. [REVIEW] Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews 2008 (7).
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  12. Herbert Gintis (2007). A Framework for the Unification of the Behavioral Sciences. Behavioral and Brain Sciences 30 (1):1-16.
    The various behavioral disciplines model human behavior in distinct and incompatible ways. Yet, recent theoretical and empirical developments have created the conditions for rendering coherent the areas of overlap of the various behavioral disciplines. The analytical tools deployed in this task incorporate core principles from several behavioral disciplines. The proposed framework recognizes evolutionary theory, covering both genetic and cultural evolution, as the integrating principle of behavioral science. Moreover, if decision theory and game theory are broadened to encompass other-regarding preferences, they (...)
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  13. Herbert Gintis (2007). Unifying the Behavioral Sciences II. Behavioral and Brain Sciences 30 (1):45-53.
    My response to commentators includes a suggestion that an additional principle be added to the list presented in the target article: the notion of human society as a complex adaptive system with emergent properties. In addition, I clear up several misunderstandings shared by several commentators, and explore some themes concerning future directions in the unification of the behavioral science. (Published Online April 27 2007).
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  14. Samuel Bowles & Herbert Gintis (2006). Social Preferences, Homo Economicus, and Zoon Politikon. In Robert E. Goodin & Charles Tilly (eds.), The Oxford Handbook of Contextual Political Analysis. Oxford University Press. 172--86.
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  15. Herbert Gintis (2006). Behavioral Ethics Meets Natural Justice. Politics, Philosophy and Economics 5 (1):5-32.
    offers an evolutionary approach to morality, in which moral rules form a cultural system that is robust and evolutionarily stable. The folk theorem is the analytical basis for his theory of justice. I argue that this is a mistake, as the equilibria described by the folk theorem lack dynamic stability in games with several players. While the dependence of Binmore's argument on the folk theorem is more tactical than strategic, this choice does have policy implications. I do not believe that (...)
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  16. Herbert Gintis (2006). Moral Sense and Material Interests. Social Research: An International Quarterly 73 (2):377-404.
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  17. Herbert Gintis (2006). The Foundations of Behavior: The Beliefs, Preferences, and Constraints Model. Biological Theory 1 (2):123-127.
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  18. Herbert Gintis (2005). Behavioral Game Theory and Contemporary Economic Theory. Analyse and Kritik 27 (1):48-72.
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  19. Joseph Henrich, Robert Boyd, Samuel Bowles, Colin Camerer, Ernst Fehr, Herbert Gintis, Richard McElreath, Michael Alvard, Abigail Barr, Jean Ensminger, Natalie Smith Henrich, Kim Hill, Francisco Gil-White, Michael Gurven, Frank W. Marlowe & John Q. Patton (2005). “Economic Man” in Cross-Cultural Perspective: Behavioral Experiments in 15 Small-Scale Societies. Behavioral and Brain Sciences 28 (6):795-815.
    Researchers from across the social sciences have found consistent deviations from the predictions of the canonical model of self-interest in hundreds of experiments from around the world. This research, however, cannot determine whether the uniformity results from universal patterns of human behavior or from the limited cultural variation available among the university students used in virtually all prior experimental work. To address this, we undertook a cross-cultural study of behavior in ultimatum, public goods, and dictator games in a range of (...)
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  20. Joseph Henrich, Robert Boyd, Samuel Bowles, Colin Camerer, Ernst Fehr, Herbert Gintis, Richard McElreath, Michael Alvard, Abigail Barr, Jean Ensminger, Natalie Smith Henrich, Kim Hill, Francisco Gil-White, Michael Gurven, Frank W. Marlowe, John Q. Patton & David Tracer (2005). Models of Decision-Making and the Coevolution of Social Preferences. Behavioral and Brain Sciences 28 (6):838-855.
    We would like to thank the commentators for their generous comments, valuable insights and helpful suggestions. We begin this response by discussing the selfishness axiom and the importance of the preferences, beliefs, and constraints framework as a way of modeling some of the proximate influences on human behavior. Next, we broaden the discussion to ultimate-level (that is evolutionary) explanations, where we review and clarify gene-culture coevolutionary theory, and then tackle the possibility that evolutionary approaches that exclude culture might be sufficient (...)
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  21. Herbert Gintis (2004). Towards the Unity of the Human Behavioral Sciences. Politics, Philosophy and Economics 3 (1):37-57.
    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, since 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 (...)
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  22. Herbert Gintis (2003). A Critique of Team and Stackelberg Reasoning. Behavioral and Brain Sciences 26 (2):160-161.
    Colman's critique of classical game theory is correct, but it is well known. Colman's proposed mechanisms are not plausible. Insufficient reason does what “team reasoning” is supposed to handle, and it applies to a broader set of coordination games. There is little evidence ruling out more traditional alternatives to Stackelberg reasoning, and the latter is implausible when applied to coordination games in general.
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  23. Herbert Gintis (2002). Altruism and Emotions. Behavioral and Brain Sciences 25 (2):258-259.
    If altruism requires self-control, people must consider altruistic acts as costly, the benefits of which will only be recouped in the future. By contrast, I shall present evidence that altruism is dictated by emotions: Altruists secure an immediate payoff from performing altruistic acts, so no element of self-control is present, and no future reward is required or expected.
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  24. Herbert Gintis (2001). The Contribution of Game Theory to Experimental Design in the Behavioral Sciences. Behavioral and Brain Sciences 24 (3):411-412.
    Methodological practices differ between economics and psychology because economists use game theory as the basis for the design and interpretation of experiments, while psychologists do not. This methodological choice explains the “four key variables” stressed by Hert-wig and Ortmann. Game theory is currently the most rigorous basis for modeling strategic choice.
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  25. Herbert Gintis (2000). Classical Versus Evolutionary Game Theory. Journal of Consciousness Studies 7 (1-2):1-2.
    Classical and evolutionary game theory attempt to explain different phenomena. Classical game theory describes socially and temporally isolated encounters while evolutionary game theory describes macro-social behavioural regularities. The actors in classical game theory are payoff maximizers whose identity remains fixed during the course of play. By contrast, in evolutionary game theory, the players are constantly changing, and the central actor is a replicator -- an entity having some means of making approximately accurate copies of itself. However successful in its own (...)
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  26. Herbert Gintis (2000). Group Selection and Human Prosociality. Journal of Consciousness Studies 7 (1-2):1-2.
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  27. Samuel Bowles & Herbert Gintis (1993). A Political and Economic Case for the Democratic Enterprise. Economics and Philosophy 9 (01):75-.
  28. Samuel Bowles & Herbert Gintis (1992). Power and Wealth in a Competitive Capitalist Economy. Philosophy and Public Affairs 21 (4):324-353.
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  29. Barry Clark & Herbert Gintis (1978). Rawlsian Justice and Economic Systems. Philosophy and Public Affairs 7 (4):302-325.
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