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The Fairness Instinct: The Robin Hood Mentality and Our Biological Nature.


The Fairness Instinct: The Robin Hood Mentality and Our Biological Nature

L. Sun

Prometheus Books


346 pages




The evolution of our sense of fairness is the subject of this work by a professor of biology at the Central Washington University and the co-author of two previous books. The concepts of fairness and justice, long the domain of philosophers rather than scientists, have come under scientific scrutiny in recent years. Apes, our nearest relatives, exhibit an understanding of fairness and react negatively to perceived injustice. This suggests that the phenomenon, which has fascinated thinkers from all nations for thousands of years, has a biological, evolutionary origin. Sun postulates that this sense, what he calls the "Robin Hood mentality" is encoded in our genes and traces possible evolutionary pathways of its emergence. Along the way he discusses the ideas of justice and grounds them in evolutionary biology and warns against the possible over-application of the 'fairness instinct' and the dangers concomitant with it: rigid social structures designed to encourage mediocrity, spite and violence.

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Publication:Reference & Research Book News
Article Type:Book review
Date:Feb 1, 2014
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