The optimal forager and economic man
DOI link for The optimal forager and economic man
The optimal forager and economic man book
Enlightenment thought has proclaimed the triumph of human reason over a recalcitrant nature. As a child of the Enlightenment, neoclassical economics developed as a science of human decision-making and its aggregate consequences, based on the premise that every individual acts in the pursuit of rational self-interest. Whether the postulates of microeconomic theory are applicable to humanity at large, or only to those societies characterised as Western, has been much debated: classic anthropological statements include those of Malinowski – who dismissed as ‘preposterous’ the assumption that ‘man, and especially man on a low level of culture, should be actuated by pure economic motives of enlightened self-interest’, and Firth – who argued, to the contrary, that ‘in some of the most primitive societies known . . . there is the keenest discussion of alternatives in any proposal for the use of resources, of the relative economic advantages of exchange with one party as against another, and the closest scrutiny of the quality of goods which change hands . . . and taking a proﬁt thereby’ (Malinowski 1922: 60; Firth 1964: 22, see Schneider 1974: 11-12).