When I started work on the second edition of The Economics of Rights, Co-operation and Welfare (ERCW), I had a plan of updating it by inserting new chapters, while keeping the original text intact. But the new chapters kept growing longer, and eventually I realized that the mixture of old and new material would not work. To keep the new material under control, I have restricted myself to a commentary on the content of ERCW in the light of subsequent developments in evolutionary game theory, and of what seem to me to be the most substantial criticisms that have been made of its arguments. I have resisted the temptation to use this Afterword as an opportunity to show how the arguments in ERCW can be applied in new areas, or to discuss further topics, however closely related to ERCW. My concern here is with what ERCW says, and whether it is right. I give most attention to those elements of ERCW that remain most controversial: the emphasis on the role of ‘prominence’ (or ‘salience’)1 in determining which conventions emerge, the argument that inefficient conventions can be favoured by the forces of social evolution, and the claim that certain kinds of convention tend to acquire moral force for the people who follow them, even if, viewed from outside, those conventions appear morally arbitrary.
KeywordsMoral Belief Replicator Dynamic Expect Utility Theory Normative Expectation Evolutionary Game Theory
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