The Moral Economy by Samuel Bowles
Why Good Incentives Are No Substitute for Good Citizens (Castle Lectures Series)

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The book is, happily, much easier to read (and much shorter) than Kant’s The Critique of Pure Reason. And it demands very little in the way of technical knowledge of economics or game theory. It is not, however, light reading...
-Financial Times

Synopsis

Should the idea of economic man—the amoral and self-interested Homo economicus—determine how we expect people to respond to monetary rewards, punishments, and other incentives? Samuel Bowles answers with a resounding “no.” Policies that follow from this paradigm, he shows, may “crowd out” ethical and generous motives and thus backfire.
 
But incentives per se are not really the culprit. Bowles shows that crowding out occurs when the message conveyed by fines and rewards is that self-interest is expected, that the employer thinks the workforce is lazy, or that the citizen cannot otherwise be trusted to contribute to the public good. Using historical and recent case studies as well as behavioral experiments, Bowles shows how well-designed incentives can crowd in the civic motives on which good governance depends.
 

About Samuel Bowles

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Samuel Bowles heads the Behavioral Sciences Program at the Santa Fe Institute. He previously taught economics at Harvard University, the University of Massachusetts and the University of Siena. He is the author, most recently, of Microeconomics: Behavior, Institutions, and Evolution (2004), A Cooperative Species: Human Reciprocity and its Evolution (2011, with Herbert Gintis) and articles in Science, Nature, the Quarterly Journal of Economics, the Journal of Public Economics and other academic journals. He has also served as an economic advisor to presidential candidates Robert F. Kennedy and Jesse Jackson, and former South African President Nelson Mandela and has taught crash courses in economics to trade unionists, community activists and others. Universita degli studi di siena
 
Published May 28, 2016 by Yale University Press. 288 pages
Genres: Business & Economics, Health, Fitness & Dieting, Education & Reference, Professional & Technical. Non-fiction
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Financial Times

Above average
Reviewed by Robert Armstrong on Aug 19 2016

The book is, happily, much easier to read (and much shorter) than Kant’s The Critique of Pure Reason. And it demands very little in the way of technical knowledge of economics or game theory. It is not, however, light reading...

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