Why are we nice to strangers? Matt Ridley

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As Adam Smith pointed out, kindness works among friends and relatives, but for cooperation among strangers, human beings use a wholly different mechanism: a division of labor that encourages people to engage in mutual service. Plenty of other animals (from chimpanzees to ants) show cooperation within groups and proportionate antagonism between them, whereas none has exchange and specialization between strangers. History shows that it is trade that dissolves hostility between groups.

Dr. Wilson does not discuss commerce as a source of cooperation in Binghamton, and he dislikes economics. So he misses the point that, though human beings do kind things unrewarded for their neighbors, for reward they also do kind things for strangers: They hand more cash to merchants than they do to beggars.

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