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Economic man – or straw man?

  • Ken Binmore (a1)

The target article by Henrich et al. describes some economic experiments carried out in fifteen small-scale societies. The results are broadly supportive of an approach to understanding social norms that is commonplace among game theorists. It is therefore perverse that the rhetorical part of the paper should be devoted largely to claiming that “economic man” is an experimental failure that needs to be replaced by an alternative paradigm. This brief commentary contests the paper's caricature of economic theory, and offers a small sample of the enormous volume of experimental data that would need to be overturned before “economic man” could be junked.

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Behavioral and Brain Sciences
  • ISSN: 0140-525X
  • EISSN: 1469-1825
  • URL: /core/journals/behavioral-and-brain-sciences
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