#TIIH (The Invisible Invisible Hand, July 29, 2017):

Are you civil? When do you put your self interest aside? Does it depend on the ‘evolutionary game’ you are playing? Is justice fairness? Is a fair world impossible? What do markets promote? Is ‘price’ the magic wand? Can price take all the externalities into account? Do initial endowments always matter? Can social order emerge in a group of only self interested individuals? When can natural selection be said to be occurring? Why aren’t all groups societies? Is there fairness (or even efficiency) in the animal world? Is despotism or nepotism the price that we pay for having a civilization? Would reciprocity be built into any just society? Why don’t all efficient markets (or equilibria) exist? Can order and disorder appear in cycles? Does enlightened self interest lead to common good outcomes? Do we get exactly what we select for? Is there often a disconnect between the individual, sub-group, & group levels? Are larger groups likely to be less fair? Would an ‘equal’ world (even if) be stable? Can there be a Theorem for Fairness? How much of private property must we respect to have a prosperous society? What (besides poetry) is worth striving for…? SynTalk thinks about these & more questions using concepts from evolutionary biology (Prof. Amitabh Joshi, JNCASR, Bangalore), political philosophy (Prof. Bindu Puri, JNU, New Delhi), & economics (Prof. Debraj Ray, New York University (NYU), New York).

Listen in…

SynTalk is pleased and privileged to have hosted the following SynTalkrs (in alphabetical order) on its #TIIH show.

Prof. Amitabh Joshi (evolutionary biology) is Professor, Evolutionary & Organismal Biology Unit, Jawaharlal Nehru Centre for Advanced Scientific Research (JNCASR), Bangalore. Before JNCASR, he also briefly taught at Centre of Ecological Sciences (CES), IISc Bangalore, & was a post-doctoral research associate at the laboratory of Laurence D. Mueller, Department of Ecology & Evolutionary Biology, University of California, Irvine, USA. He completed his B.Sc. (Botany, Honors, 1986), & M.Sc. (Genetics, 1988) from University of Delhi (DU), and then went on to complete his Ph.D. in Evolutionary Genetics from Washington State University, Pullman, USA (1993). His key research interests are evolution, population ecology, evolutionary genetics, with key focus on areas such as studying life-history evolution using fruit flies of the genus Drosophila as a model system, & studying evolution of the developmental rates, patterns of life-time offspring production & the rates of ageing under different kinds of selection pressures. As part of population ecology research, Prof. Joshi & his team focuses on demographic stochasticity and the dynamics of small populations, development and analysis of realistic models of population growth, ecological factors promoting population stability, & the interaction of sub-population dynamics and migration in metapopulation dynamics. Prof. Joshi has received multiple honours including the Shanti Swarup Bhatnagar Prize in medical sciences (2009), and JC Bose Fellowships (DST, 2011-16, 2016-21). He is also an elected Fellow of the Indian Academy of Sciences (IAS, 2001), National Academy of Sciences (NASI, 2002), & Wissenschaftskolleg zu Berlin (Institute of Advanced Studies, Berlin, 2001). He is member-editorial board of Resonance, & editor of Journal of Genetics.

Prof. Bindu Puri (political philosophy) Professor & Chairperson, Centre for Philosophy, School of Social Sciences, Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), New Delhi. Prior to JNU, she was Professor, Department of Philosophy, University of Delhi (DU) & also taught at multiple colleges in DU (Kamla Nehru College, Lady Sri Ram College, & Indraprastha College). Her key research areas are political philosophy, moral philosophy and contemporary Indian philosophy. She has been specially engaged in re-constructing the Gandhian legacy. Prof. Puri completed her B.A. (Honors), M.A., M. Phil. & Ph.D. in Philosophy from DU. Her Ph.D. thesis was titled ‘Gandhi’s Conception of Morality’. She has presented multiple papers in National and International seminars, and delivered several dozen invited Lectures at Universities in India and abroad. Prof. Puri has also published widely in edited anthologies and philosophical and interdisciplinary journals, such as, Sophia, Philosophia, and the Journal of  the Indian Council of Philosophical Research (JICPR). She has published six books including two monographs. The first monograph was titled ‘Gandhi and the Moral Life’ (2004), & the second monograph, titled, ‘The Tagore-Gandhi Debate: On Matters of Truth and Untruth’ (Springer, 2015) was published in a series titled Sophia Studies in Cross-cultural Philosophy of Traditions and Cultures. She has produced four edited volumes. An anthology, ‘Mahatma Gandhi and his Contemporaries’ was published by the Indian Institute of Advanced Studies (IIAS) at Shimla in 2001. She has co-edited (with Heiko Sievers) two volumes of essays on Kant (OUP, 2007). More recently she has co-edited an anthology titled ‘Living with Religious Diversity’ (Routledge India, 2016), with two other editors (Sonia Sikka, & Lori Beaman).

Prof. Debraj Ray (economics) is a Julius Silver Professor in the Faculty of Arts and Science and Professor of Economics at New York University (NYU), New York. He has also held full-time, visiting or part time positions at Columbia University (2013-14), London School of Economics (LSE; 2004-05), Boston University (1991-99), MIT (1998), & Harvard University (1993), among others. He received his B.A. (1977) from the University of Calcutta, and his M.A. (1981) and Ph.D. (1983) from Cornell University. Prof. Ray’s research interests are microeconomic theory, game theory and development economics, and he has published and lectured widely in different parts of the world over the years. Some of his honours and Fellowships include: Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences (2016), Fellow of the Econometric Society (1993), Fellow of the Society for Advancement of Economic Theory (2011), Guggenheim Fellow (1997). He also holds an honorary degree from the University of Oslo (2011). Among Prof. Ray’s teaching awards are the Dean’s Award for Distinguished Teaching at Stanford University (1985), and the Golden Dozen Teaching Award (NYU, 2017). He has also delivered several invited lectures around the world. Prof. Ray’s has also written eight books, one of which, Development Economics (Princeton University Press, 1998), was described by the Chronicle of Higher Education as ‘…a revolutionary textbook that takes the field by storm…’, & also appeared in Spanish, Chinese and Indian editions. Over the years, he has also contributed (or co-authored) numerous book chapters and book reviews. He is currently a Co-Editor of the American Economic Review, & holds/has held several other editorial responsibilities.

Note: Any & all errors in the brief profiles above are SynTalk’s own.

#TIIH mentionsGorgias, Adam Smith, Charles Darwin, Mahatma Gandhi, Kenneth Arrow, Gérard Debreu, John Rawls, Jared Diamond, & Robert Trivers, among others.