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Re-Establishing Altruism As A Viable Social Norm

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Altruistic (Post-Autistic) Economics

Post-Autistic Economics (PAE) is a new, revisionist school of thought in economics that attempts to overcome the deficits in classical economics theory and teaching. Mainstream economics is branded 'autistic' due to

    a. an oversimplistic world view
    b. an excessive reliance on mathematics
    c. a refusal to integrate with other discplines

    Behavioral Economics demonstrates the falsehood of homo economicus, the fully-informed, perfectly rational, utterly self-interested individual which is the building block of standard, neo-classical economics. Post-Autistic Economics questions both the assumptions in the economics which is taught, as well as the teaching methods, which emphasise modern interpretations of the neo-classical formulae, but had little time either for their historical context or their contemporary relevance.

    Started in Spring 2000 by group of disaffected French economics students, Post-Autistic Economics first reached a wider audience in June 2000 after an interview in Le Monde. A petition was launched on WWW to draw attention to the problems, and encouraged a more pluralist approach from the economics teaching establishment. This message has resonated worldwide, most notably in Harvard, US and Cambridge, UK. Students and staff alike have taken up the cause, calling for neoclassical economics to be taught as only one system among many alternative theories such as those of Marx, Walras, Galbraith, Keynes and Schumpeter.

    "The expertise of economists is imprisoned in their systems which presuppose the infinity of human desires and needs - needs which they, servants of the insatiability of Western men and women, will help to satisfy." 1

    This rebirth of pluralism in economics is not only backward-looking; many new academic areas are opening up in the last few years, particularly ones that integrate other academic disciplines, such as econophysics and ecological economics. Traditional economists, long obsessed by complex mathematical models, are realising the value of being better in touch with other academic disciplines, and closer to real people and the real world.

    We believe that what is vitally needed for world social and ecological stability is a replacement for the classical notion of 'self-maximising' that takes into account the fact that we are all connected. We are designing a system of altruistic economics to meet this need.

    [1]Bob Goudzwaard: (1984) Idols Of Our Time, Inter-Varsity Press Illinois 60515 ISBN:0-87784-970-6
    Directory
    Search on 'Economic'...
    Time Dollars
    www.timedollar.org
    helpers/community
    Challenging standard economics this site promotes 'Time Dollars', a currency intended to promote community & altruism by increasing friendly contact with others. They offer software and other materials to help you start your own system.
    A Network for Grateful Living
    www.gratefulness.org
    visionaries
    This organisation has published a range of material to help people become more grateful for their lives. It aims to inspire altruistic effort in areas of universal concern like interfaith work, social justice, economics, politics and ecology.
    Global Justice Movement
    www.globaljusticemovement.org
    visionaries
    Shares material and coordinates work to illustrate the conflict bound nature of our economic system. Instead it promotes an alternative 'third way' - by which it means a shared and non-competitive vision of the future for mankind.
    Mouvement Anti-Utilitariste dans les Sciences Sociales
    www.revuedumauss.com
    visionaries/economics
    Site run by the MAUSS group of French Intellectuals, who reject the classical assumption of selfishness and are fundamentally rethinking economic theory along altruistic lines. Contains a wealth of alternative philosphical thought about gift economies.
    People Centred Development Forum
    iisd1.iisd.ca/pcdf
    healers/society
    This site highlights the problems caused by unthinking pursuit of economic growth. It seeks to replace the love of money in modern society by the love of life.

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