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  • 1
    Language: English
    In: Ecological Economics, Nov, 2013, Vol.95, p.137(11)
    Description: To link to full-text access for this article, visit this link: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.ecolecon.2013.08.006 Byline: John Gowdy, Lisi Krall Abstract: The current geological epoch has been dubbed the Anthropocene -- the age of humans. We argue that the roots of the Anthropocene lie in the agricultural revolution that began some 8000years ago. Unique human psychological and cultural characteristics were present in our distant hunter-gatherer past, but in terms of the biophysical impact of our species, agricultural represented an unequivocal and decisive evolutionary break. With the transition to agriculture human society began to function as a superorganism functioning as a single unit designed by social natural selection to produce economic surplus. Where environmental conditions were permitted, early human agricultural societies followed the same pattern as a few social insects and exhibited explosive population growth, complex and detailed division of labor, intensive resource exploitation, territorial expansion, and a social organization favoring the survival and growth of the supergroup over the well-being of individuals within the group. Similar economic forces lie behind ultrasociality in social insects and humans -- increased productivity from the division of labor, increasing returns to scale, and the exploitation of stocks of productive resources. Exploring the evolutionary mechanisms behind ultrasociality offers insights into the growth imperative that threatens the stability of the earth's life support systems. Article History: Received 4 February 2013; Revised 17 June 2013; Accepted 6 August 2013 Article Note: (footnote) [star] We would like to acknowledge the contribution of discussions with the participants in a series of workshops organized by the Evolution Institute and funded by the National Evolutionary Synthesis Center (NESCent) at Duke University and a workshop "Evolution and Bioeconomics" at Ringberg Castle, Germany sponsored by the Max Planck Institute at Jena. This paper builds on an earlier one making the case that agriculture was an ultrasocial transition (Gowdy and Krall, 2013).
    Keywords: Natural Selection -- Social Aspects ; Agricultural Associations -- Social Aspects
    ISSN: 0921-8009
    Source: Cengage Learning, Inc.
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  • 2
    Language: English
    In: Conservation biology the journal of the Society for Conservation Biology, 2010, Vol.24(6), pp.1440-1447
    Description: Abstract: The last century has seen the ascendance of a core economic model, which we will refer to as Walrasian economics. This model is driven by the psychological assumptions that humans act only in a self‐referential and narrowly rational way and that production can be described as a self‐contained circular flow between firms and households. These assumptions have critical implications for the way economics is used to inform conservation biology. Yet the Walrasian model is inconsistent with a large body of empirical evidence about actual human behavior, and it violates a number of basic physical laws. Research in behavioral science and neuroscience shows that humans are uniquely social animals and not self‐centered rational economic beings. Economic production is subject to physical laws including the laws of thermodynamics and mass balance. In addition, some contemporary economic theory, spurred by exciting new research in human behavior and a wealth of data about the negative global impact of the human economy on natural systems, is moving toward a world view that places consumption and production squarely in its behavioral and biophysical context. We argue that abandoning the straightjacket of the Walrasian core is essential to further progress in understanding the complex, coupled interactions between the human economy and the natural world. We call for a new framework for economic theory and policy that is consistent with observed human behavior, recognizes the complex and frequently irreversible interaction between human and natural systems, and directly confronts the cumulative negative effects of the human economy on the Earth's life support systems. Biophysical economics and ecological economics are two emerging economic frameworks in this movement. ; Includes references ; p. 1440-1447.
    Keywords: Global Temperature Changes -- Analysis ; Global Temperature Changes -- Social Aspects ; Thermodynamics -- Analysis ; Thermodynamics -- Social Aspects ; Economic Theory -- Analysis ; Economic Theory -- Social Aspects ; Neurosciences -- Analysis ; Neurosciences -- Social Aspects ; Environmental Economics -- Analysis ; Environmental Economics -- Social Aspects;
    ISSN: 0888-8892
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  • 3
    Language: English
    In: Journal of Bioeconomics, 2014, Vol.16(2), p.179(24)
    Description: Byline: John Gowdy (1), Lisi Krall (2) Keywords: Bioeconomics; Division of labor; Economies of scale; Evolutionary economics; Neolithic demographic transition; Origin of agriculture; Ultrasociality; B52; N5; Q1; Q5 Abstract: The adoption of agriculture was one of the most momentous transformations in human history. It set into motion forces that changed our species from living in small numbers within the confines of local ecosystems into one that is now changing the biophysical characteristics of the entire planet. We argue that this transformation can be understood as a leap to ultrasociality--a type of social organization rare in nature but wildly successful when it occurs. Several species of ants and termites made a similar leap in social organization and the broad characteristics of their societies are remarkably similar to post hunter-gatherer human societies. Ultrasocial species dominate the ecosystems they occupy in terms of sheer numbers and the scale of ecosystem exploitation. We argue that the drivers for the ultrasocial transition to agriculture are economic. These societies operate as superorganisms exhibiting an unparalleled degree of division of labor and an economic organization centered around surplus production. We suggest that the origin of human and insect agriculture is an example of parallel evolution driven by similar forces of multi-level selection. Only with the evolution of expansionist agriculturalist societies did humans join ants and termites in the social domination of Earth. Viewing agriculture as an ultrasocial transition offers insights not only about the origins of agriculture and its consequences, but also about the forces shaping the current demographic transition and the modern global socio-economic system. Author Affiliation: (1) Departments of Economics and Science & Technology Studies, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Troy, NY, 12140, USA (2) Department of Economics, State University of New York at Cortland, Cortland, NY, 13045, USA Article History: Registration Date: 21/03/2013 Online Date: 09/04/2013
    Keywords: Termites ; Agricultural Industry ; Evolutionary Biology ; Ants
    ISSN: 1387-6996
    Source: Cengage Learning, Inc.
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  • 4
    Language: English
    In: Ecological Economics, November 2013, Vol.95, pp.137-147
    Description: The current geological epoch has been dubbed the Anthropocene—the age of humans. We argue that the roots of the Anthropocene lie in the agricultural revolution that began some 8000 years ago. Unique human psychological and cultural characteristics were present in our distant hunter–gatherer past, but in terms of the biophysical impact of our species, agricultural represented an unequivocal and decisive evolutionary break. With the transition to agriculture human society began to function as a superorganism functioning as a single unit designed by social natural selection to produce economic surplus. Where environmental conditions were permitted, early human agricultural societies followed the same pattern as a few social insects and exhibited explosive population growth, complex and detailed division of labor, intensive resource exploitation, territorial expansion, and a social organization favoring the survival and growth of the supergroup over the well-being of individuals within the group. Similar economic forces lie behind ultrasociality in social insects and humans—increased productivity from the division of labor, increasing returns to scale, and the exploitation of stocks of productive resources. Exploring the evolutionary mechanisms behind ultrasociality offers insights into the growth imperative that threatens the stability of the earth's life support systems.
    Keywords: Anthropocene ; Downward Causation ; Evolution ; Group Selection ; Inclusive Fitness ; Increasing Returns to Scale ; Inequality ; Multi-Level Selection ; Sociobiology ; Stocks and Flows ; Sustainability Policy ; Ultrasociality ; Environmental Sciences ; Ecology ; Economics
    ISSN: 0921-8009
    E-ISSN: 1873-6106
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  • 5
    Language: English
    In: Ecological economics : the transdisciplinary journal of the International Society for Ecological Economics, 2013, pp. 137-147
    ISSN: 09218009
    Source: Deutsche Zentralbibliothek für Wirtschaftswissenschaften
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  • 6
    Language: English
    In: Ecological Economics, 2010, Vol.69(4), pp.753-761
    Description: This paper explores the evolution of humans as social beings and the implications of this for economic theory and policy. A major flaw in Walrasian economics is the assumption of “self-regarding” agents—economic actors make decisions independently of social context and without regard to the behavior of other consumers and firms. Truly other-regarding behavior, such as altruism and altruistic punishment, cannot be fully captured in the standard economic model. Standard economic assumptions about human behavior make pure altruism an irrational “anomaly” that cannot survive the evolutionary selection process. However, recent findings from neuroscience, behavioral economics evolutionary game theory and animal behavior have paved the way for a realistic, science-based, and policy-relevant foundation for economic theory. Other-regarding emotions such as altruism, love, and envy are an essential part of the human experience. We use the Price equation, showing the feasibility of the evolution of group selection of altruistic preferences, to explore some of the implications of this phenomenon for economic theory and policy. We explore evidence that the human capacity for empathy evolved from primates and suggest that this was the precursor for human morality. We suggest that if we drop the assumption that fitness is equated with the consumption of market goods, pure altruism is no longer fitness reducing, particularly in western societies. We also examine individual preferences for altruism in terms of their effect on well being.
    Keywords: Altruism ; Behavioral Economics ; Co-Evolution ; Evolutionary Economics ; Group Selection ; Love ; Environmental Sciences ; Ecology ; Economics
    ISSN: 0921-8009
    E-ISSN: 1873-6106
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  • 7
    Language: English
    In: Ecological economics : the transdisciplinary journal of the International Society for Ecological Economics, 2013, pp. 231-235
    ISSN: 09218009
    Source: Deutsche Zentralbibliothek für Wirtschaftswissenschaften
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  • 8
    Language: English
    In: Ecological Economics, November 2013, Vol.95, pp.231-235
    Description: In the abundant literature dealing with the monetary valuation, or monetization, of ecosystem services (MES), with very few exceptions, the concept is presented as having emerged in 1997. In fact, there is a long history, starting in the late fifties but largely ignored, of sustained attempts to assign monetary values to nature's services. These early efforts encountered many conceptual and methodological roadblocks, which could not be resolved and led a number of researchers to argue that monetary valuation was not a fruitful approach. It is in that context that MES was hailed by some in 1997 as a promising way to integrate environmental goods and services into the logic of economic markets. Knowledge of the full timeline casts a very different light, in particular on the difficulties currently encountered in the practice of MES; far from being the expected growing pains of a young discipline, these difficulties turn out to be long-standing problems that have eluded solution over the last half-century and appear intrinsically unresolvable. This perspective suggests that, at this point, it is advisable to look at alternatives to MES for the integration of nature into economic decisions. All rights reserved, Elsevier
    Keywords: Ecosystem Services ; Valuation ; Commodification ; Nature'S Services ; Environmental Sustainability ; Environmental Sciences ; Ecology ; Economics
    ISSN: 0921-8009
    E-ISSN: 1873-6106
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  • 9
    Language: English
    In: Journal of economic behavior & organization : JEBO, 2013, Vol.90, pp. 3-10
    ISSN: 01672681
    Source: Deutsche Zentralbibliothek für Wirtschaftswissenschaften
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  • 10
    Language: English
    In: Journal of Economic Behavior and Organization, June 2013, Vol.90, pp.S3-S10
    Description: Economic and evolutionary thinking have been entwined throughout their histories, but evolutionary theory does not function as a general theoretical framework for economics and public policy, as it does for the biological sciences. In this lead article for a special issue of the , we first describe how evolution functions as a general theoretical framework in the biological sciences. Then we consider four reasons why evolution might not need to be consulted for human-related subjects such as economics and public policy. We conclude that these reasons can be valid in particular cases, but they fail for any sizeable human-related subject area. Hence evolution can and should become a general theoretical framework for economics and public policy. The other articles in the special issue help to substantiate this claim.
    Keywords: Adaptation ; Economic History ; Evolution ; Public Policy ; Business
    ISSN: 0167-2681
    E-ISSN: 1879-1751
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