Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Humankind's Natural Propensities

Peter Boettke:
I often tell students that humankind has demonstrated two natural propensities--to truck, barter, and exchange (as Adam Smith taught); and to rape, pillage, and plunder (as Thomas Hobbes taught us)--and which propensity is pursued is a function of the institutional framework within which individuals find themselves living and interacting. The life experience can be a virtuous cycle of wealth creation and healthier and wealthier lives, or it can be a nasty and brutish hell on earth.  So while economics cannot give us exact point predictions, it can, as a science, inform us of tendencies and directions of change as well as the wealth-creating or wealth-destroying capacity of the political economic system. [Living Economics: Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow, p. 385]

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