Ernst Fehr To Lecture At Institute For Advanced Study
Ernst Fehr, director of the Institute for Empirical Research in Economics at the University of Zurich, Switzerland, will speak on "Human Nature and Social Interaction" on November 7 at 4:30 p.m. in Wolfensohn Hall on the campus of the Institute for Advanced Study.
The event is co-sponsored by the Institute's School of Social Science and its Program in Theoretical Biology. A reception in the Common Room of Fuld Hall will follow the lecture.
"Different views of human nature are at the center of many political and philosophical controversies," observes Fehr. "The mainstream view in economics and biology stipulates that self-interest is the dominant force in shaping human behavior and that other forces are negligible.
"During the last two decades, however, an accumulating body of empirical knowledge has challenged these views." This evidence, says Fehr, "poses many new puzzles. While humans sometimes behave as if completely self-interested, there are other situations indicating extremely cooperative behavior."
In his lecture, Fehr plans to "review this recent evidence, and discuss the implications for evolutionary theory and for social scientific theories in general."
Fehr holds master's and doctoral degrees in economics from the University of Vienna. Before assuming his professorship in economics at the University of Zurich in 1994, he taught and did research at the University of Technology in Vienna and the London School of Economics and Political Science, and directed the Boltzmann Institute for Economic Research in Vienna.
Author of numerous articles in economic journals, Fehr has conducted extensive research on the nature of competition, cooperation, and material incentives. Among the many professional honors he has received is the 1999 Gossen Prize of the German Economic Association. In addition, Fehr delivered the Schumpeter Lecture at the 2001 Congress of the European Economic Association.