Behavioral ethics meets natural justice

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 moral rules are solutions to the Nash bargaining problem. Rather, I believe that human beings are emotionally constituted, by virtue of their evolutionary history, to embrace prosocial and altruistic notions of in-group–out-group identification and reciprocity. These aspects of human nature are incompatible with Binmore's notion that humans are self-regarding creatures. I present empirical evidence supporting a specific form of human, other-regarding preferences known as strong reciprocity. Key Words: justice • ethics • folk theorem • evolutionary game theory.
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DOI 10.1177/1470594X06060617
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