Challenging the Greed-Is-Good Gospel of Free Markets

In his latest book, economist Samuel Bowles argues that it is not sufficient to rely on rule of law, property rights and private contracts — the holy trinity of free-market fundamentalism — to ensure pro-social behavior. Those incentives must be reinforced by widely accepted moral codes and norms of social behavior. Drawing on game theory, behavioral and experimental economics, and even neurobiology, he shows that over-relying on the market’s financial incentives will undermine moral values and social norms and cause them to atrophy, like unused muscles.

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