This volume brings together cutting-edge research from emerging and senior scholars alike representing a variety of disciplines that bears on human preferences for fairness, equity and justice. Despite predictions derived from evolutionary and economic theories that individuals will behave in the service of maximizing their own utility and survival, humans not only behave cooperatively, but in many instances, truly altruistically, giving to unrelated others at a cost to themselves. Humans also seem preoccupied like no other species with issues of fairness, equity and justice. But what exactly is fair and how are norms of fairness maintained? How should we decide, and how do we decide, between equity and efficiency? How does the idea of fairness translate across cultures? What is the relationship between human evolution and the development of morality? The collected chapters shed light on these questions and more to advance our understanding of these uniquely human concerns.
Structured on an increasing scale, this volume begins by exploring issues of fairness, equity, and justice in a micro scale, such as the neural basis of fairness, and then progresses by considering these issues in individual, family, and finally cultural and societal arenas. Importantly, contributors are drawn from fields as diverse as anthropology, neuroscience, behavioral economics, bioethics, and psychology. Thus, the chapters provide added value and insights when read collectively, with the ultimate goal of enhancing the distinct disciplines as they investigate similar research questions about prosociality. In addition, particular attention is given to experimental research approaches and policy implications for some of society's most pressing issues, such as allocation of scarce medical resources and moral development of children. Thought-provoking and informative, Interdisciplinary Perspectives on Fairness, Equity, and Justice is a valuable read for public policy makers, anthropologists, ethicists, psychologists, neuroscientists, and all those interested in these questions about the essence of human nature.
Dr. Meng Li is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Health and Behavioral Sciences at the University of Colorado Denver. She holds a Ph.D. in Social Psychology from Rutgers University. Dr. Li studies the systematic difference between what we think "rational" people ought to do, and what people actually do. Harnessing human decision biases, her research uses minor changes in the decision environment, or "nudges", to motivate socially optimal behaviors, such as preventive health behavior, environmental conservation, work-life balance, and smart transportation decisions. Her policy-oriented research tests the flexibility of public opinions on resource allocation, as well as their altruistic and self-interested motives in vaccination decisions. Her publications have appeared in prestigious journals such as JAMA, The Lancet Infectious Diseases, and Psychological Science.
David P. Tracer is Professor in the Departments of Health and Behavioral Sciences and Anthropology at the University of Colorado Denver. He holds a PhD in Biological Anthropology from the University of Michigan. His main theoretical areas of expertise are human ecology and evolutionary perspectives on numerous aspects of both human biology and behavior. Within the biological arena his research has considered aspects of maternal and child health including nutrition, growth and development, and determinants of fertility. Within the area of human behavior, his research has focused on decision-making and social norms including reciprocity, altruism, bargaining, and justice. He has conducted research for over 25 years in Papua New Guinea as well as among Bedouins in Israel as a J. William Fulbright Senior Research Scholar in Economics. Dr. Tracer's work has been published in top journals including Science, Behavioral and Brain Sciences, Nature Communications and Current Anthropology.