Simon’s Selection Theory: Why Docility Evolves to Breed Successful Altruism

Thorbjørn Knudsen

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Abstract

In light of the under-explored potential of Simon’s theory of altruism, the purpose of the present article is to review his explanation of altruism and to point out some of its implications for behavioural economics and theories of economic organization. In the course of the argument, this article relates Simon’s theory of altruism to Hamilton’s theory of kinship selection and then proceeds to examine a critical assumption of Simon’s model that social organizations know better than individuals. Within the parameters of Simon’s own model, the paper suggests how this assumption can be justified. The paper concludes by noting that Simon offered a new and so far under-explored mechanism for the emergence of altruism in biological populations and suggests a controlled experiment to test Simon’s explanation against Hamilton’s. Finally, it is noteworthy that Simon’s theory has immediate implications for the understanding of human nature that invites revision and development of behavioural economics and theories of economic organization.
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationFrederiksberg
PublisherThe Link Program
Number of pages29
Publication statusPublished - 2002
Externally publishedYes
SeriesLINK Working Paper
Number2002-21

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