Fairness

Mark Pesce has some interesting reflections about money and fairness. Here’s a snippet:

Social scientists and neuropsychologists have recently begun to test the human drive to wealth. One of the most significant findings – released just a few months ago – indicates that we each have an innate sense of fairness in every financial transaction and we’re more than willing to walk away from a transaction which we deem unfair. Furthermore, we’re willing to punish others for perpetrating those transactions. This cognitive “center of fairness” is one of the last areas of the brain to develop fully – it marks the final stage of adulthood, appearing reliably in adults after about age 22. This means our sense of fairness draws upon many of the foundational cognitive structures of the brain, which help us to understand value, social ranking, need, and so forth. Only when these systems are in place can we develop a notion of fairness. And if any of these systems fail – as does happen, on occasion – psychologists can predict an individual’s descent into psychopathology. Being fair is perhaps our highest cognitive achievement as individuals, and thus – quite rightly – it is marked as the beginning of wisdom.

Hat tip: Richard Oliver.

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