June 16, 2017


From Fred Smith in Forbes Magazine.

Self-interest encourages deal-making and empathy makes it more likely that such deals will be fair—and, thus, more likely to be repeated. Smith recognized that free markets were the result of the creative synthesis of these two traits. Too few capitalist defenders today realize that understanding both traits is critical.


Empathy deals with our awareness of how others will react to our actions and our choices. It permits us to get into the skin of another person and understand, to some extent, their motives and values. These dual traits distinguish mankind from other social animals. Animals, too, are self-interested and sometimes cooperate. But, as Smith notes, they don’t bargain—they lack the empathetic traits that would allow them to know what the other wants and reach a mutual win/win agreement. Smith notes: “Man is an animal that makes bargains: no other animal does this—no dog exchanges bones with another.”

To make a deal is human. Real the entire essay.

A FOR REAL UPDATE: Note that June 16 is Adam Smith’s Gregorian calendar birthday.

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