From Public Choice to Evolutionary Theory

  • Filipe Nobre Faria
Part of the Palgrave Studies in Classical Liberalism book series (PASTCL)


This chapter presents and discusses the key concepts and theoretical frameworks used throughout the book. The chapter begins by introducing public choice theory and by describing the main tenets of rational choice theory—the methodological basis of classical public choice. This second chapter focuses on the standard public choice assumptions that underpin the methodological comparison of preference satisfaction in markets and politics, such as the parity of assumptions, uniformity of behavioural motivation and rational self-interest/egoism. It also introduces the evolutionary model of multilevel selection and reviews the classical public choice theory assumptions from this evolutionary perspective. Lastly, the chapter discusses the meaning of important concepts for the book, like preferences, evolutionary fitness, self-interest and morality.


  1. Alexander, R. (1995/1985). A Biological Interpretation of Moral Systems. In P. Thompson (Ed.), Issues in Evolutionary Ethics (pp. 179–202). New York: State University of New York Press.Google Scholar
  2. Alexander, G., Wilcox, T., & Woods, R. (2009). Sex Differences in Infants’ Visual Interest in Toys. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 38, 427–433.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Ariely, D. (2008). Predictably Irrational: The Hidden Forces That Shape Our Decisions. New York: HarperCollins.Google Scholar
  4. Arrow, K. J. (1951). Social Choice and Individual Values. London: Chapman & Hall.Google Scholar
  5. Baert, P. (2005). Philosophy of the Social Sciences: Towards Pragmatism. Cambridge: Polity Press.Google Scholar
  6. Barkow, J. H., Cosmides, L., & Tooby, J. (1992). The Adapted Mind: Evolutionary Psychology and the Generation of Culture. New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  7. Barnea, A., Cronqvist, H., & Siegel, S. (2010). Nature or Nurture: What Determines Investor Behavior? Journal of Financial Economics, 98, 583–604.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Becker, G., & Stigler, G. (1977). De Gustibus Non Est Disputandum. American Economic Association, 67(2), 76–90.Google Scholar
  9. Blackburn, S. (2012). Do Evolution and Morality Talk Much? David Sloan Wilson & Simon Blackburn Discuss. Neuron Culture. Retrieved from
  10. Boyd, R., & Richerson, P. (2005). Not by Genes Alone: How Culture Transformed Human Evolution. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  11. Buchanan, J. M. (1979). What Should Economists Do? Indianapolis: Liberty Press.Google Scholar
  12. Buchanan, J. M., & Tullock, G. (1999). The Calculus of Consent: Logical Foundations of Constitutional Democracy. Indianapolis: Liberty Fund.Google Scholar
  13. Cesarini, D., Dawes, C., Johannesson, M., Lichtenstein, P., & Wallace, B. (2009). Genetic Variation in Preferences for Giving and Risk Taking. Quarterly Journal of Economics, 124, 809–842.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Cesarini, D., Johannesson, M., Lichtenstein, P., Sandewall, P., & Wallace, B. (2010). Genetic Variation in Financial Decision Making. Journal of Finance, 65, 1725–1754.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Cochran, G., & Harpending, H. (2009). The 10,000 Year Explosion: How Civilization Accelerated Human Evolution. New York: Basic Books.Google Scholar
  16. Cronqvist, H., & Siegel, S. (2013). The Origins of Savings Behavior. AFA 2011 Denver Meetings Paper. Retrieved from
  17. Darwin, C. (1871). The Descent of Man and Selection in Relation to Sex. New York: Appleton.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Dawkins, R. (2006). The Selfish Gene (30th anniversary ed.). Oxford; New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  19. Durkheim, E. (1995). The Elementary Forms of Religious Life (K. Fields, Trans.). New York: The Free Press.Google Scholar
  20. Durkheim, E. (2009). Sociology and Philosophy. New York: Taylor & Francis.Google Scholar
  21. Elster, J. (1986). Rational Choice. Washington Square, NY: New York University Press.Google Scholar
  22. Evans, J. (2002). Logic and Human Reasoning: An Assessment of the Deduction Paradigm. Psychological Bulletin, 128(6), 978–996.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Feilden, T., Firth, C., Kanai, R., & Rees, G. (2011). Political Orientations Are Correlated with Brain Structure in Young Adults. Current Biology, 21(8), 677–680.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Ferejohn, J. (1991). Rationality and Interpretation: Parliamentary Elections in Early Stuart England. In K. Monroe (Ed.), Economic Approach to Politics: A Critical Reassessment of the Theory of Rational Action. New York: Harper Collins.Google Scholar
  25. Fishburn, P. C. (1988). Nonlinear Preference and Utility Theory. Baltimore; London: Johns Hopkins.Google Scholar
  26. Gert, B. (2012). The Definition of Morality. The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Retrieved from
  27. Green, D. P., & Shapiro, I. (1994). Pathologies of Rational Choice Theory: A Critique of Applications in Political Science. New Haven; London: Yale University Press.Google Scholar
  28. Haidt, J. (2012). The Righteous Mind: Why Good People Are Divided by Politics and Religion. London: Allen Lane.Google Scholar
  29. Hamilton, W. D. (1963). The Evolution of Altruistic Behavior. American Naturalist, 97, 354–356.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Hooker, J. (2012). Moral Implications of Rational Choice Theories. In C. Lütge (Ed.), Handbook of the Philosophical Foundations of Business Ethics. Berlin: Springer.Google Scholar
  31. Hume, D. (1748). An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding. London: A. Millar.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Hume, D. (2005). A Treatise of Human Nature. New York: Barnes & Noble Publishing.Google Scholar
  33. Jones, G. (2008). Are Smarter Groups More Cooperative? Evidence from Prisoner’s Dilemma Experiments, 1959–2003. Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, 68, 489–497.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Kahneman, D., Slovic, P., & Tversky, A. (1982). Judgement Under Uncertainty: Heuristics and Biases. Cambridge; New York: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  35. Kahneman, D., & Tversky, A. (1983). Extensional Versus Intuitive Reasoning: The Conjunction Fallacy in Probability Judgment. Psychological Review, 90(4), 293–315.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Kanazawa, S. (2012). The Intelligence Paradox. Hoboken, NJ: Wiley.Google Scholar
  37. Keskitalo, K., Tuorila, H., Spector, T., Cherkas, L., Knaapila, A., Silventoinen, K., & Perola, M. (2007). Same Genetic Components Underlie Different Measures of Sweet Taste Preference. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 86(6), 1663–1669.Google Scholar
  38. Lichtenstein, S., & Slovic, P. (2006). The Construction of Preference. Cambridge; New York: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. McChesney, F. S., & Shughart, W. F. II (1995). The Causes and Consequences of Antitrust: The Public-Choice Perspective. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  40. Nietzsche, F. (1954). Twilight of the Idols. In W. Kaufmann (Ed.), The Portable Nietzsche (pp. 463–565). New York: Viking.Google Scholar
  41. Nietzsche, F. (1966). Beyond Good and Evil (W. Kaufmann, Trans.). New York: Vintage.Google Scholar
  42. Nietzsche, F. (1974). The Gay Science (W. Kaufmann, Trans.). New York: Vintage.Google Scholar
  43. Nietzsche, F. (1989). On the Genealogy of Morals & Ecce Homo (W. Kaufmann, Trans., W. Kaufmann Ed.). New York: Vintage.Google Scholar
  44. Nietzsche, F. (2003). On the Genealogy of Morals (K. Ansell-Pearson Ed.). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  45. Okasha, S. (2006). Evolution and the Levels of Selection. Oxford: Oxford University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Pinker, S. (2002). The Blank Slate: The Modern Denial of Human Nature. New York: Viking.Google Scholar
  47. Plomin, R. (2018). Blueprint: How DNA Makes Us Who We Are. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.Google Scholar
  48. Przeworski, A. (1991). Democracy and the Market: Political and Economic Reforms in Eastern Europe and Latin America. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Rachels, J., & Rachels, S. (2012). The Elements of Moral Philosophy (7th ed.). New York: McGraw-Hill.Google Scholar
  50. Riker, W. (1990). Political Science and Rational Choice. In J. Alt & K. Shepsle (Eds.), Perspectives on Positive Political Economy. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  51. Robalino, N., & Robson, A. (2013). Genes, Culture, and Preferences. Biological Theory, 8(2), 151–157.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Rowley, C. K., & Schneider, F. (2008). Readings in Public Choice and Constitutional Political Economy. New York; London: Springer.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Rubin, P. (2007). Utility, Fitness, and Immigration: Reply to Salter. Journal of Bioeconomics, 9, 53–67.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. Salter, F. (2004). Is Ethnic Globalism Adaptive for Americans? Population and Environment, 25(5), 501–527.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. Salter, F. (2007). Proximate and Ultimate Utilities: A Rejoinder to Rubin. Journal of Bioeconomics, 9, 69–74.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. Samuelson, P. (1938). A Note on the Pure Theory of Consumers’ Behaviour. Economica, 5(17), 61–71.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. Sen, A. (1986). Behaviour and the Concept of Preference. In J. Elster (Ed.), Rational Choice. New York: New York University Press.Google Scholar
  58. Sober, E., & Wilson, D. S. (1998). Unto Others: The Evolution and Psychology of Unselfish Behavior. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  59. Spinoza, B. (1985). The Collected Works of Spinoza (E. Curley, Trans., E. Curley Ed.). Princeton: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
  60. Sunstein, C. (2006). Preface. In S. Lichtenstein & P. Slovic (Eds.), The Construction of Preference. New York: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  61. Trivers, R. L. (1971). The Evolution of Reciprocal Altruism. Quarterly Review of Biology, 46, 35–57.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  62. Tullock, G., Seldon, A., & Brady, G. L. (2002). Government Failure: A Primer in Public Choice. Washington, DC: Cato Institute.Google Scholar
  63. Turchin, P. (2006). War and Peace and War: The Rise and Fall of Empires. New York: Penguin Books.Google Scholar
  64. Tversky, A., & Kahneman, D. (1981). The Framing of Decisions and the Psychology of Choice. Science, 211(4481), 453–458.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  65. Wilson, D. S. (2002). Darwin’s Cathedral: Evolution, Religion, and the Nature of Society. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  66. Wilson, D. S. (2004). The New Fable of the Bees: Multilevel Selection, Adaptive Societies, and the Concepts of Self Interest. Advances in Austrian Economics, 7, 201–220.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  67. Wilson, D. S., & Wilson, E. O. (2007). Rethinking the Theoretical Foundation of Sociobiology. The Quarterly Review of Biology, 82(4), 327–348. Retrieved from
  68. Zucker, M. (1945). The Philosophy of American History. New York: The Arnold-Howard Publishing Co. inc.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Filipe Nobre Faria
    • 1
  1. 1.Nova University of LisbonLisbonPortugal

Personalised recommendations