What is Self-Interest?

People is a group of people regarded collectively as a single body. It normally consists of government officials, members of a village or town, members of an ethnic or cultural group or members of any professional category such as teachers, professionals, technicians, bankers, accountants, etc. In some cases, groups may be organized around a common cause like for the common defense against a common enemy or for the common welfare of a society, community or country. People are categorized into numerous groups depending upon their relations to others and their activities.

Ethnicity People is categorized according to their nationality, tribe or religion. Their relationship with other cultures and communities also determines their classification. For example, in the United States the classification of race is based on the description of the individuals according to their place of birth. However, the process of ethnicity in this case is more complicated because of the existence of various cultures and religions in the country. The case captions for people of different ethnic groups are used for criminal prosecutions in different cases.

Natural Selection Over the last one hundred years, various theories have been propounded on the nature of human beings and their behavior towards other human beings. Many theories propounded on the behavior of human beings are discussed in this context. The dominant theory in the natural selection of behavior is that natural selection is based on self-interest or the pursuit of power. According to this theory, humans act towards those objects that increase their own life-span or those objects that improve their power to survive.

Economics has been one of the most important disciplines in social science. Two schools of thought have contributed significantly to the development of economics. One school of thought traces its roots to the enlightenment thinkers of the eighteenth century. The other school of thought traces its roots to the marginalists, who were considered by mainstream classical economists as intellectual hoaxers. The main concepts of classical economics are primarily descriptive rather than causal. Human beings are not motivated by self-interest; they are motivated by the satisfaction of their needs.

In essence, classical economics deals with the process by which natural selection results in the creation of value-standard without reference to personal interest or motivation. It makes use of economic reasoning and makes use of tools such as the theory of demand and supply, money, and markets. The major works of classical economists include Say’s Law, Taylor’s Principles, and Piller’s The Naturalist. Among these, Say’s Law deals with the significance of money; Taylor’s with the significance of the scale of prices; and Piller with the importance of the effects of natural selection on the distribution of prices. All these topics occupied major parts of the intellectual investment of these economists.

The major ideas of classical economics have been modified and developed by the Austrian school of economists, leading to the Nobel Prize winning theory of self-interest, known as the Prisoner’s Dilemma. The prisoner’s dilemma, named after its discoverer, Elwood P. Chandler, concerns the psychological principle that people will act according to the way in which they expect to be treated. The idea behind this is that people are likely to be “mate choice” creatures, meaning that they will cooperate with other individuals who are part of their own group to help them avoid being punished for the same behavior they commit when free to choose not to cooperate. The prison concept came from the observation that violent criminals were usually not part of a group but were solitary and not subject to the rules and punishments associated with it.