I Think Therefore I Become

Many economists are very generous people, but part of the mutilitarian moral philosophy of the discipline is to normalize or even laud homo economicus.  Homo economicus is the model citizen of economics: a greedy sociopath who only cares about maximizing his own mutility.  This is how economic models generally assume that people behave because it is simpler to model than more complex, realistic human characters.  But because we constantly think it, therefore we have become comfortable with it as a norm.

For example, today at a free seminar I am attending, the presenter said that we are free to use all of the work he has posted on his website.  “I’m an idiot,” he said, “It’s free.”  And he repeated that assertion the second day too.  But he isn’t an idiot for giving his work away for free.  All academics give away most of their creative work for free, but only economists denigrate themselves for doing public service for free.

In contrast, he also said, “You’re going to love this,”  and he went on to tell how an economist from the University of Texas gets 7 cents from each copy of Excel sold because of writing a “simple algorithm” in it called Solver.  But only an economist would love the guy who got rich off of every person who has bought Microsoft Office or Excel (most of whom have never even installed the optional Solver module) and call generosity idiotic.

Posted in Medianism

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