Are Humans Inherently Selfish?

Source: American Institute for Economic Research
by Anthony Gill

“One of the principal assumptions guiding economic analysis is that human beings are self-interested utility maximizers. In short, individuals make choices that yield the greatest benefit net of cost. This assumption allows economists to model human behavior and make predictions related to consumer purchases, corporate decision-making, and public policy. Students in my Introduction to Political Economy course generally accept this assumption, although they believe that self-interest is synonymous with selfishness, which they further argue is socially destructive and should be countered with government regulation. The discussion of whether humans are self-interested, and if this equates to selfishness, seems academically esoteric. Understanding this topic, however, is important for public policy in practical terms.” (09/08/23)