Noted Economist Lectures on Evolution of Human Morality

ATLANTA (November 9, 2010) Why do people help others when there's no personal gain involved? Noted economist and game-theory expert Herbert Gintis, Ph.D., external professor at Santa Fe Institute and a professor of economics at Central European University, will answer this question and others during his lecture “Evolution and Morality,” on Wednesday, November 10, at 4:30 p.m. at Spelman College.

Ever wonder why people are willing to help others even when there is no personal gain involved? Noted economist and game-theory expert Herbert Gintis, Ph.D., will address this question during his lecture “Evolution and Morality.” Sponsored by the Spelman College Epsilon of Georgia Chapter of Phi Beta Kappa in cooperation with the national Phi Beta Kappa Society's visiting scholar program, the event is free and open to the public.

The classical understanding of human morality as presented by noted philosophers like Thomas Hobbs, suggests that “man is not naturally good, but naturally selfish.” Describing people as altruistic and cooperative, Gintis challenges this notion by presenting a model of human morality that is the result of cultural and genetic interplay. As he explained during a 2009 lecture, over time, humans transform culture. This new culture creates new behaviors and a new social system that changes the direction of genetic development. In this model, human behaviors such as morality are attributed to a set of evolved predispositions such as altruistic cooperation, the valuing of character virtues and empathy.

WHO:    
Herbert Gintis is external professor, at Santa Fe Institute and a professor of Economics at Central European University where he and Robert Boyd, professor of Anthropology at the University of California, Los Angeles, head a multidisciplinary research project titled “The Social and Mental Dynamics of Cooperation.”

Herbert Gintis received a doctorate in economics from Harvard and has authored several books including “Game Theory Evolving “and “The Bounds of Reason.” His areas of expertise include gene-culture co-evolution, human capital theory, efficiency wages, reciprocity, and human capital theory.

WHERE:    
Spelman College
Albro-Falconer-Manley Science Center,
NASA Auditorium
350 Spelman Lane S.W., Atlanta, GA 30314

WHEN:    
Wednesday, Nov. 10, 2010
4:30 p.m.

WHY:    
Gintis’ lecture is part of the 2010-2011 Phi Beta Kappa Visiting Scholar Program. One of 11 top scholars in the liberal arts and sciences participating in the program, Gintis will travel to various colleges and universities throughout the year to contribute to the intellectual climate.

Visiting scholars spend two days, at each institution they travel to, meeting informally with undergraduates, participating in classroom lectures and seminars, and giving one major address open to the entire academic community.

Spelman College
Founded in 1881, Spelman College is a prestigious, highly selective, liberal arts college that prepares women to change the world.  Located in Atlanta, Ga., this historically black college boasts a 79 percent graduation rate, and outstanding alumnae such as Children’s Defense Fund Founder Marian Wright Edelman; former U.S. Foreign Service Director General Ruth Davis, authors Tina McElroy Ansa and Pearl Cleage; and actress LaTanya Richardson.  More than 83 percent of the full-time faculty members have Ph.D.s or other terminal degrees, and the average faculty to student ratio is 12:1.  More than 2,100 students attend Spelman. For more information, visit www.spelman.edu.

(404) 270-5822

tsimmons8@spelman.edu

350 Spelman Lane, SW

Atlanta, GA 30314

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Founded in 1881, Spelman College is a prestigious, highly selective, liberal arts college that prepares women to change the world. Located in Atlanta, Ga., this historically black college boasts a 79 percent graduation rate, and outstanding alumnae such as Children’s Defense Fund Founder Marian Wright Edelman; former U.S. Foreign Service Director General Ruth Davis, authors Tina McElroy Ansa and Pearl Cleage; and actress LaTanya Richardson. More than 83 percent of the full-time faculty members have Ph.D.s or other terminal degrees, and the average faculty to student ratio is 12:1. More than 2,100 students attend Spelman. For more information, visit www.spelman.edu.

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