On the importance of altruism, prosocial behavior and Christian love in behavioral economics studies (ალტრუიზმის, პროსოციალური ქმედებისა და ქრისტიანული სიყვარულის მნიშვნელობა ქცევითი ეკონომიკის კვლევებში)

In Behavioral Economics, research of prosocial behavior large-scale cooperation between strangers remains one of the most challenging and puzzling questions. In economic relations the risk of opportunistic behavior and cheating always exists. Opportunistic and selfish decisions may lead society to various suboptimal and ineffective economic equilibrium. In recent theories of social preferences the relations between egoist and the “strong reciprocal” type of individuals are of crucial importance. And in these relations “Altruistic Punishment” is critical: If there is no altruistic punishment, cooperation between parties cannot be sustained. In presence of punishment mechanism and certain conditions, the strong reciprocator individual can enforce the whole group of selfish individuals to act prosaically and cooperate. Whether it is an altruist, a reciprocal altruist or a strong reciprocal individual, their behavior in social preferences theories are mute about moral system. However, altruism is a moral concept of Positivism Philosophy. Large part of Behavioral Economics theories analyzes origins of altruism and prosocial behavior in Evolutionary Theory framework. The evolutionary worldview and Christian worldview, altruism and Christian love are contradictory. As a result of our analysis, altruism is a hidden and complicated form of selfishness. Therefore, the established view that altruism and prosocial behavior differ, as first is focused on the well-being of “others” and the latter is self-centered, is misleading: both altruism and prosocial behavior are ultimately self-centered concepts. The puzzle of large-scale cooperation between strangers is derived from evolutionary paradigm itself. If we come out of the “captivity” of this paradigm and are guided by the Christian worldview, we think that scientific research will be more fruitful. In our view, it is time to pay attention to the rich intellectual heritage of Christian teaching that can significantly contribute to the welfare of society.
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Behavioral economics, altruism, prosocial behavior, Christian love, Christian worldview, evolutionary worldview
Economics and Business, №3, 2020, pp. 138-153