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Economics: what’s love got to do with it?

Economists understand greed very well; after all, the urge to get rich is our discipline’s main explanation for human actions. Economists further recognise that greed can be good. When our greedy urges…

Can economics really describe love? Well, it starts with greed… Image sourced from www.shutterstock.com

Economists understand greed very well; after all, the urge to get rich is our discipline’s main explanation for human actions. Economists further recognise that greed can be good. When our greedy urges are constrained by institutions, so that we compete with each other by means of specialisation in production rather than by killing or cheating one another, our economies produce growth.

But the phenomenon of love has flummoxed us economists. We have followed much of the rest of society in seeing love as something that is a cosmic accident: neither predictable nor manipulable, love has been thought to arise mysteriously. Once finding himself by chance in love, a person suddenly cares about more than just himself. It is allegedly by happy accident that people love their children, their spouses, the constitution of their country, and many other people and constructs.

In our new book, An Economic Theory of Greed, Love, Groups, and Networks, we behold and treat love in an entirely different way. It would be fair to say that we take the stance of aliens looking at humans as just another species, with love merely one behavioural strategy available to that species. Blasphemous as this may sound, our goal is to apply the scientific method to the realm of the heart.

At the most basic level, we contend that love is a submission strategy aimed at producing an implicit exchange. Someone who starts to love begins by desiring something from some outside entity. This entity can be a potential sexual partner, a parent, “society”, a god, or any other person or abstract notion.

From a position of relative weakness, the loving person tries to gain control over this entity by incorporating the entity into his own sense of self. Of many examples, that of the child is perhaps easiest to see in this framework: a weak infant starts to love the parents who provide for his needs, and starts to see himself as part of the family. We contend that the same fundamental process explains why men and women start to love their partners, their countries, their jobs, and their gods.

The consequences of this basic mechanism are immense for any human organisation. Without it, there could be no families, no religions, no science, and no countries, because the loyalty of those who love is part of what keeps families together, soldiers loyal, scientists truth-seekers, and the religious faithful.

Naturally, within any group, not everyone loves to the same degree, and in fact many members of groups do not love at all and instead merely pretend to share the group ideal. But without any real love, created when lovers are weak and needy, human organisations would fall apart and our economies would cease to function.

There is much more to say about love: how it conferred an individual evolutionary advantage long ago; how the neural mechanisms responsible for it relate to our cognitive and non-cognitive development throughout life; how to define weakness and how to describe human desires; how “love” relates to other difficult concepts that economists have long struggled with, such as “power” and “networks”; and, most excitingly, what steps lead from this essentially individual mechanism to the highly organised societal structures we see today. We explore all of these paths in our book. We argue that love is a vital element in almost everything that is important to economists and social science, from why people by and large pay their taxes to why they are able to work happily together in teams.

Why did we decide that love had to have something to do with economics? Because reality forced us into acknowledging the importance of love. If you want to understand yourself and your society but are prepared to make no mental space for love in your explanations, then all we can say is good luck. We hope you have more success than we did. For more than 10 years, we independently worked on understanding society without an explicit role for love, and we basically got stuck. It took us another 10 years to develop our best guess for how love relates to greed and to all of the complexities of humans and their societies.

Finally, why do we see the discipline of economics as the natural home for our theory of love’s genesis and consequences? Because economics offers an extensive discourse on the other crucial ingredient propelling human action – greed – and also because economics is a science whose nature and ideal is to offer simple stories to capture social complexity. By combining love and greed to construct a simple, tractable model of our social world, we hope to have advanced the discovery of what humans and their societies are all about.

An Economic Theory of Greed, Love, Groups and Networks, by Gigi Foster and Paul Frijters, is published by Cambridge University Press.

Join the conversation

54 Comments sorted by

  1. Dale Bloom

    Analyst

    This would be profound research, but perhaps something many have already known.

    Marxism was based on love of “state”, but not family or relatives or on a religion, because there were going to be none.

    It had to be enforced by a gun or through mass starvation, and resulted in more deaths and murders than any other political system.

    We now have a very Marxist society, where family has little meaning, it is a secular society with declining religion, and for many men in particular, it is becoming a fatherless society where there is nothing left except work and paying tax or child support.

    We are also supposed to love our country, but politicians are increasingly treating the population as workforce fodder, while at the same time destroying the countryside through purposely increasing the population. There is now little love for our leaders.

    So love in this country is in decline, and that now becomes rather worrying.

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    1. Dale Bloom

      Analyst

      In reply to Peter Ormonde

      In the 1940’s, about 0.3% of people said they were non-religious, and now about 17%. Many more do not attend any religious service.

      Fertility rates continue to decline, while daycare centers increase.

      The number of children involved in divorce increases, and about 20% of children rarely or never see their natural father.

      Families now mean little, and fathers even less.

      Meanwhile our country is in environmental decline, while our Prime Minister places greatest importance on “working families”, rather than healthy, happy or even functional families.

      Seems that “working” is becoming the most prominent word, and we actually have a very Marzist and loveless society.

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    2. Dennis Alexander

      logged in via LinkedIn

      In reply to Dale Bloom

      Actually, Marxism was not about love of State at all. It was about love of 'community', 'society', and/or 'humanity', choose your own scdale as appropriate. Neither was Marxism about 'work' as the dominant modality of life - that is mostly a conception from capitalist, fascism and State Socialism (not Marxist, closer to the unmentionable National variety, think Stalin and a German contemporary). Marxism was a theory about political economy and society based on dialectical historical materialism…

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    3. Dale Bloom

      Analyst

      In reply to Dennis Alexander

      See “MARX, ENGELS, AND THE ABOLITION OF THE FAMILY”

      “By the mid- to late-nineteenth century it was clear to advocates and opponents alike that many socialists shared a propensity to reject the institution of the family in favour of 'free love', if not in practice, at least as an ideal.”

      http://www.csustan.edu/history/faculty/weikart/Marx-Engels-and-the-Abolition-of-the-Family.pdf

      Ironically, it lead to an increasingly loveless state, where single person households, childless households and fatherless children are increasing, and religion and spirituality are also decreasing.

      The loss of families and children also leads to a loss of “community”

      And now the natural environment seems to have disappeared in many areas, and the GDP seems to be tottering.

      What a stuff up.

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    4. Peter Ormonde
      Peter Ormonde is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Farmer

      In reply to Dale Bloom

      Even better Dale - have a crack at a book - The Origins of Private Property, Family and the State by Fred Engels. But rough, bit hunchy, not totally correct but a great read. Just gives one an idea of what these old time social critics were on about.

      Must be strange living in the shadow of a 19th century conspiracy... still being haunted by spectres. If a little unhinged. Must feel good to have someone to blame for everything though.

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    5. Dale Bloom

      Analyst

      In reply to Peter Ormonde

      There was actually a huge battle that took place last century.

      Everything from the Russian Revolution to the Cold War to the Vietnam War to the Chinese Cultural Revolution.

      But I do think that battle has now been won, and the evidence is all around in our increasingly loveless society.

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  2. Shaun King

    Designer

    ""At the most basic level, we contend that love is a submission strategy aimed at producing an implicit exchange. Someone who starts to love begins by desiring something from some outside entity. This entity can be a potential sexual partner, a parent, “society”, a god, or any other person or abstract notion.""

    The beginning of this theory is, i believe, where the authors have missed the point, and thus the rest of their theory may very well be totally unbalanced.

    To contend that love is a…

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    1. Tim Niven
      Tim Niven is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Chinese Student and EFL Teacher at Tzu Chi University, Hualien City, Taiwan

      In reply to Shaun King

      Have to agree with you on the face of it without reading the book, Shaun.

      'At the most basic level, we contend that love is a submission strategy aimed at producing an implicit exchange.'

      Still sounds strikingly autistic to me. Why do you have to reduce love to self-interest (I'm guessing that's what exchange comes out to mean) to be scientific? I'm guessing this reduction will ultimately turn out the same as the greed fetish: obscuring more than it reveals.

      'a science whose nature and ideal is to offer simple stories to capture social complexity. '

      I'm not convinced it's a "science"; and a search for simplicity can be a fetish - the experience with greed might've cautioned some humility in that respect.

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    2. Robert McDougall

      Small Business Owner

      In reply to Tim Niven

      I would think that love is more to do with giving freely with no expectation of gain in return, maybe the greedy suffer a developmental disorder and are unable to experience the concept.

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  3. Stephen Ralph

    carer at n/a

    Well I hope your book sells well, from a greed point of view.

    ***Economists understand greed very well; after all, the urge to get rich is our discipline’s main explanation for human actions***

    How sad if this is the only truth in economics.

    Some of us may want money to improve our lives a little or a lot - that may be greed who knows.

    Your context is so heartless in many ways as to be unpalatable,that doesn't mean there isn't some truth in it I suppose, but you have reduced economics and money (and love) to the meanest level possible.

    ***We contend that the same fundamental process explains why men and women start to love their partners, their countries, their jobs, and their gods.***

    Perhaps as they say money is the root of all evil.

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  4. Peter Ormonde
    Peter Ormonde is a Friend of The Conversation.

    Farmer

    Aw - get a room you pair.

    All this fawning about - hand-holding and the like - we all know that capitalists can't cuddle. Romance is rare on Wall Street. No profit in it. A waste of time.... and time is money.

    Seriously there is a deeply autistic aspect to homo economus - this implicit self-centredness they assume to be the inevitable human condition. Projection I say! They look out and only see themselves.

    Doesn't really fit the bill does it? - this one-dimensional snapshot - it doesn't give us the full picture at all. Misses the point entirely actually.

    Real people - as opposed to economists - are more than self-absorbed slaves to self-interest. Mushy words like altruism, co-operation, kindness and compassion don't fit easily in the transactional understanding of buying and selling - this shop-keeper's notion of the human condition.

    People evolved a long way before economics. But I'm not sure we will survive it. It makes the Black Death look like a sniffle.

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  5. Yoron Hamber

    Thinking

    Greed can be good? Very Hollywood that one. I'm not sure it is, pure science is good, it's applications, often based on just greed may be otherwise. Love is good, greed on the other hand have lead us to this place and time. And that's no good at all.

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  6. Ramon Erispe

    Scientific Publishing

    Interesting thesis and behavioral economics has certainly become the new 'fashion' of late. The philosopher Rene Girard has been writing about this stuff since the 60's with his theory of memetic desire. Here's hoping the authors add something new to the literature. All my love.

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  7. David Collett
    David Collett is a Friend of The Conversation.

    IT Application Developer at Web Generation

    Once Economics has quantified and categorised love, the next question becomes "Can we produce the same outcomes by replacing love with something else?".

    Unfortunately, as Leonard Cohen pointed out:

    "...they'll never ever find that cure for love
    There ain't no drink no drug
    There's nothing pure enough to be a cure for love."

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  8. Steven Liaros

    Town planner at PolisPlan - town planning and eco-village consultants

    Gigi and Paul,

    Great to see some economists are starting to look outside the world of economics. I hope you don't think that you are inventing something new or that by talking about love you are absorbing it into the domain of economics.

    The word economics (eco-nomia) means 'household management'... The laws governing the household, which is the place where our private interests are satisfied. The word politia, the political or public domain is where we address our public interests, where we show concern for others in the city or society.

    It is precisely the encroachment of economics into the public domain that has damaged our society. This damage is exacerbated because economists keep selling the message that greed is the only human driver.

    Our society and environment are damaged because we have come to believe that the satisfaction of private interests is our only concern and so we are blind to the fact that the growth in private interests damages the public interest.

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  9. Eric Ireland

    logged in via Facebook

    That love is ultimately driven by self-interest may be true in our society, but I do not believe it universally describes the human condition. If the logic of the market drives all human relationships, I see that as a sad reflection on our own society. I think we need to start looking at love as an act of conscious resistance against that logic.

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  10. Mike Swinbourne

    logged in via Facebook

    "......Economists understand greed very well; after all, the urge to get rich is our discipline’s main explanation for human actions. ...."

    If that's your explanation for human reactions, then it's no wonder that economists simply don't have much of a clue, and can never agree to very much. There are far better explanations to explain why humans do what they do than to suggest it is driven by the urge to get rich. If you can't think of some given a minute to think about it, then I have to say I pity you and the 'non-science' of economics.

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  11. Peter Hindrup

    consultant

    ‘When our greedy urges are constrained by institutions, so that we compete with each other by means of specialisation in production rather than by killing or cheating one another, our economies produce growth.’

    And so world finds itself in its present disastrous state!

    Love? Perhaps a definition would not have gone astray! Personally, love is a bloody disaster. Somebody walks across in front of you and everything that you once ‘knew’ has gone in a flash. Your, or mine, anyway, nicely organised…

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  12. Susan Hemruth

    Luftmensch

    Have you tried love? It's really quite wonderful! Actually, that's a gross understatement, especially when you can experience love which includes great sex.

    Things are around the wrong way here..we live for love and therefore economics, aka fulfilling the physical needs (refer to Maslow or similar), is an inescapable necessity.

    If love has something to say to economics it would be along the lines of "smarten up" or "get back in your corner." How is it that human beings have allowed this to dominate our culture?

    Love is not a "strategy"..it's how we came into being (conception/ birth/ lactation) and how we should continue to live!

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    1. Peter Ormonde
      Peter Ormonde is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Farmer

      In reply to Susan Hemruth

      Erk no Ms Susan ... this notion of putting love and sex into the one sentence is where we get it all wrong. Nothing to do with each other really.

      Sex is essentially reproductive (with some variations) and I'm told that some folks reckon it's fun. They probably like sky-diving too.

      But love is really empathy, understanding, care and concern - like parents feel for their children, like we feel for a puppy or an injured bird. We love because it's programmed in - not because we want something - even sex.

      Don't bugger up something pure and altruistic - so quintessentially human - by bringing sex into it.

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    2. Stephen Ralph

      carer at n/a

      In reply to Peter Ormonde

      Peter could it be your attitude has changed from when you were say 20 something?

      Some people use the two words in one sentence - "love sex".

      Its kinda nice to be at an age where the juices (so to speak) have gone from a torrent to a trickle -
      saves wear and tear.

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    3. Susan Hemruth

      Luftmensch

      In reply to Peter Ormonde

      Now (most likely inadvertently) you have "pressed one of my buttons" shall we say?

      Can we please abandon this narrative that sexual love is somehow inferior or less morally worthy than other kinds of love?

      To do sex, it involves a great deal of empathy and aspects of seeking to please the other person as well as the self to be really amazing.

      "Sex is about reproduction"....really? Most of the LGBT folk I know couldn't agree with you less!

      Sexual love is not because "I want something"..it is a balm which soothes the disconnect in my intimate relationship. It solves many an argument before one can take hold.

      If sex is "buggering up" anything, you're doing it wrong!

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    4. Peter Ormonde
      Peter Ormonde is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Farmer

      In reply to Susan Hemruth

      No no Ms Sue - any buttons being pressed you are fiddling with all on your own.

      I included a parenthetic rider as it were to embrace my LGBT bretheren with the (with some variations) bit. Nor do I think sexual love is any second order activity. Just completely unrelated. Nice to do it with someone you like apparently. But not necessary.

      We westies have developed this romantic notion of love and sex but for many folks this is a curious confusion. Arranged marriages seem to work a treat…

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    5. Dennis Alexander

      logged in via LinkedIn

      In reply to Peter Ormonde

      Peter, I'm sympathetic but ...
      Sex is about reproduction, recreation, release and/or expression (possibly, but not necessarily, of love).
      Also, Steven Covey (7 Habits) put it nicely: 'Love is a verb." Love is what one does, not what one feels.
      And, then there is the pure and altruistic element ... killing for love of country is hardly pure, enslavement of another out of love is hardly pure, killing someone who rejects one's feelings of love is hardly altruistic.

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    6. Peter Ormonde
      Peter Ormonde is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Farmer

      In reply to Dennis Alexander

      Thin line for some folks between love and enslavement Dennis. Lots of songs about it.

      I've just been reading a wonderful Guardian article and thousands of comments on "verbing" - transitioning perfectly good nouns into doing things ... love being an excellent case study. A brutally coercive business. Languaging, as my sister puts it.

      Seems that just as some folks cannot de-couple love and sex, others cannot see love and obsessional ownership as antithetical. Turns it into an ugly unlovely business. Not really love at all is it? An uncaring self-interested sort of love. Psychopathic.

      That's the great thing about dogs. Unconditional love. And they know nothing about economics at all.

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    7. Fred Pribac

      logged in via email @internode.on.net

      In reply to Peter Ormonde

      My dog, "Dubchek", would demonstrate a doggie comprehension of basic economics (in support of the thesis of the above article) by snuggling up when I had biscuits to eat.

      "Love" as currency!

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    8. Peter Ormonde
      Peter Ormonde is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Farmer

      In reply to Fred Pribac

      A dog with a fine sense of history Fred.

      Snuggling up for treats - yep he's learned that from us I'm afraid.

      But the waggy tail on sight is all his own... the eternally hopeful anticipation. Of a treat, a pat or perhaps affection.

      "Disappointment! No I can do disappointment. It's the hope I can't stand."

      - Can't remember who said that, but I'll lay decent odds it wasn't a dog.

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    9. Fred Pribac

      logged in via email @internode.on.net

      In reply to Peter Ormonde

      "But the waggy tail on sight is all his own... the eternally hopeful anticipation. Of a treat, a pat or perhaps affection."

      Maybe we could "verb" this ... into "dogging"!

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    10. Peter Hindrup

      consultant

      In reply to Stephen Ralph

      Stephen: Seems that I always (almost!) had to have some emotional connection for anything to follow.

      What really peeves me is that age has of course lessened the occurrences but the only thing learned, seemingly, is that I will (probably) live through it. It seems to my rational self looking on that the responses are just as ridiculous, as irrational, as they were back when I was twenty or so.

      Sex sans an emotional connection is, in my view a waste of time. 'Love' of a pet is no substitute.

      Greed, as applies to money, while I have been worse than broke many times, I was always sure I could make money enough, things to see, to learn, to design, were always far more important than 'the money'. Jobs I have done for the fun of it, for the challenge, to prove that it could be done ---

      Greed, money, love, in the one sentence, not my driving force.

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    11. Stephen Ralph

      carer at n/a

      In reply to Peter Hindrup

      Well said.

      Real love is the absence of the self and the absorption of another person into your "soul".

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  13. Ben Rose

    Environmental Consultant

    This articles is based on the premise "love is a submission strategy aimed at producing an implicit exchange. Someone who starts to love begins by desiring something from some outside entity. This entity can be a potential sexual partner, a parent, “society”, a god, or any other person or abstract notion."

    Whilst it is true of most types of love, the self gratifying types, I'd say this is simplistic. Is love of money the same as love of a spouse? If not why not? Where does love/ concern of the environment and future generations fit in? It certainly influences some peoples' economic decisions.

    There is another type of love, which is central to Christianity - 'agape' love - which is selfless; loving and helping those who may be unattractive or even
    'unlovable'. Does this impact on economics?

    Fascinating topic; I must read the book.

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  14. Peter Redshaw

    Retired

    I hope you guys do a better job at playing psychologists than the ones who argued that those who invest/operate in the market place act from a rationalist position, of self interest. After all as the GFC has shown that hypothesis failed badly. In fact the GFC demonstrated that the opposite is closer to the truth. And when it comes to self interest I am not that sure that most of us are very good at judging what that actually means.

    The problem is that you are using words and language to try…

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  15. Fred Pribac

    logged in via email @internode.on.net

    This offering took me by surprise.

    "Blasphemous as this may sound, our goal is to apply the scientific method to the realm of the heart."

    Is it just me or did anybody else find the notion that economists purport to use the "scientific method" as the truly startling part of this statement?

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    1. Tim Niven
      Tim Niven is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Chinese Student and EFL Teacher at Tzu Chi University, Hualien City, Taiwan

      In reply to Fred Pribac

      And apparently it's the old third-rate "reduction to self-interest" method which still seems to be in fashion.

      The truly worrying aspect about that is the well known "feedback" effects of such studies where people think, "it's 'science,' it must be true, therefore I'll consciously think and act like this". I've had discussions with people who have a passing shallow acquaintance with biology who claim to control their attraction to the opposite sex based on "biological fitness" criteria which…

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    2. Fred Pribac

      logged in via email @internode.on.net

      In reply to Tim Niven

      There is a lot of discussion about the use of the scientific method out there and ... as you comment ... a great deal of misinformation around it, and about it. Indeed one of the hall marks of "pathalogical" science is zealous trumpeting about "scientific method". http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pathological_science

      The reason I put my little jibe above, is not because economists can't use "the scientific method" (in fact whenever they use logic and evidence based reasoning I reckon that's close enough) but because there was no evidence of the use of "scientific method" in the discussion that followed.

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    3. Tim Niven
      Tim Niven is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Chinese Student and EFL Teacher at Tzu Chi University, Hualien City, Taiwan

      In reply to Fred Pribac

      For sure, Fred. I did my thesis in Philosophy of Science, so the question "what is science" and "what is the scientific method" is close to my heart. And after all that reading and arguing, my working definition is pretty much as you say - logic and evidence based reasoning.

      But in practice, logic and evidence are often applied in the context of useful paradigms. And so, as you importantly note, some (pathological) people elevate their paradigm of choice to the status of "the scientific method…

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    4. Fred Pribac

      logged in via email @internode.on.net

      In reply to Tim Niven

      Hi Tim,

      Actually ... regardless of what validity there may be in the basic thesis of the above article ... quite a few of the authors pronouncements could almost be seen as deliberate trolls. In which case we've been sucked into their vortex.

      Another possibility is that we have just witnessed the sort of academic hubris that blindsides folks to the naivety of their own generalisations.

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    5. Peter Ormonde
      Peter Ormonde is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Farmer

      In reply to Fred Pribac

      Nah Fred I'm afraid writing a whole book as a troll is a step too far. Too much work just for a tease. I'm afraid these folks mean it.

      It's a bit of an issue for economics that we try and describe behaviour as an economic function - all of it. From buying a litre (in my case a pint) of milk to smiling at strangers to settling down and raising a family.

      As a "science" of "behaviour" there just must be an economic framework - a "what's in it for me" angle that explains the lot - for the…

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  16. Ngoc Luan Ho Trieu

    logged in via Facebook

    Love drives or is driven by self-interest? Do I miss something?

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  17. Ngoc Luan Ho Trieu

    logged in via Facebook

    "If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast but do not have love, I gain nothing" (ICorinthian 13:3)
    love Is an externality of economic activities.

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    1. Stephen Ralph

      carer at n/a

      In reply to Ngoc Luan Ho Trieu

      I don't think that love has much to do with economics.

      I suppose you can "love" economics - but will it love you back.

      Can you cuddle up to economics on a cold night.

      Will economics comfort you when you've had a hard day?

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    2. Ngoc Luan Ho Trieu

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Stephen Ralph

      If optimal utility to be gained from an economic activity be it in commerce, charity, office, market, government...love will help! Quite economic to me! Love is an externality that economic agents have to internalize in their economic decision making.

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    3. Ngoc Luan Ho Trieu

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Ngoc Luan Ho Trieu

      Stephen
      I have not had the book but I guess it has substantial reference to the work of Gary Becker who was awarded the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences in 1992 and received the United States Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2007. Becker was one of the first economists to branch into what were traditionally considered topics belonging to sociology, including racial discrimination, crime, family organization, and drug addiction (see rational addiction). He is known for arguing that many different types of human behavior can be seen as rational and utility maximizing. His approach can include altruistic behavior by defining individuals' utility appropriately. He is also among the foremost exponents of the study of human capital. Becker is also credited with the "rotten kid theorem".
      There is economics in love, and vice versa, ha ha ha

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  18. James Hill

    Industrial Designer

    So what was Thomas Carlyle talking about when he introduced the phrase "For Love or Money" in his book on the French Revolution.
    Seems to imply that love is completely separate from money and therefore economics, and that the authors are indulging themselves by implying any possible connection.
    A recognition that specialisation can be very, very boring?
    Love or money, not love and money, Get it?

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    1. Ngoc Luan Ho Trieu

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to James Hill

      Agree, love is an externality. However, if love is internalized in the decision making process then economic agents can gain more utiles.

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    2. James Hill

      Industrial Designer

      In reply to Ngoc Luan Ho Trieu

      Cetainly, when a family is formed or extended those involved can certainly get "Busy" more than they did when separate.
      Then we would be looking at economics in its Greek origin as Household management.
      It might disadvantage individuals who are outside such a family bound together by "Love?" to carry on too much further with this scientific or mathematics of discrimination.
      Putting a number on everything brings up the "Midas Touch" where the inventor of money then went about putting a number…

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  19. John Harland

    bicycle technician

    The characterisations of all human emotions in terms of the single motivation of greed underlines the basic economic fallacy of valuing everything in terms of common-value-units and assuming that cooperation is merely a subset or subterfuge of competition.

    Evolution in general, and human evolution in particular, demonstrate a constant dialectiic or dynamic balance of competition and cooperation.

    Human needs are not interchangeable. No amount of food will substitute for a need for water, and…

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    1. Stephen Ralph

      carer at n/a

      In reply to John Harland

      Agree with your comments - money is another tool for living, not the reason for it.

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    2. Peter Hindrup

      consultant

      In reply to John Harland

      Apart from covering your immediate needs, education, and some security for coping with health related problems, what does 'money' have to do with anything?

      Greed; over-sized SUV's, McMansions, and such certainly seem to drive some people, but whether that is greed or exhibitionism I'm not sure.

      Friends, health, a roof over ones head, . . . .

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  20. Phillip Chalmers

    Doctor at Private and Hospital medicine

    I come late to this discussion and may just be talking to myself.

    "But the phenomenon of love has flummoxed us economists."

    Confining themselves to economic theory, of course they are defeated.
    Only acting as humans with the capacity to consider all dimensions of reality is there any possibility of finding imagery, metaphors and theories about love.

    To avoid loquacity, I precis CS Lewis "The 4 Loves"

    Affection, eros, friendship, agape.

    Affection - old man and little girl chatting…

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