Economics of Genesis: On the Institutional Economic Deciphering and Reconstruction of the Stories of the Bible
2013-01-14T16:13:47Z (GMT) by
The article traces in the book of Genesis (1) theoretical and (2) methodic elements of an institutional economics: (1a) the idea of capital contribution-distribution interactions as model of social exchange; (1b) the idea of incentive structures as model of an institutional regulative for social exchange; (1c) the practical-normative goal of pareto-superiority (mutuality of gains) as desired interaction outcome; (2a) the methodic concept of conflicting and common interests in contribution-distribution interactions (the idea of a dilemma structure, or "war of all", as Hobbes called it); and (2b) the methodic concept of self-interested choice behaviour (the homo economicus, or "methodological individualism" as Hayek referred to it). On these grounds, Genesis is deciphered and reconstructed in institutional economic terms. The article develops and explores the hypotheses (i) that the stories of Genesis reflect an intense interest and attempt to come to terms with the institutional problem of how to ensure cooperation in social interactions, and (ii) that the stories of Genesis address the institutional problem in economic terms, examining social conflict as capital contribution-distribution interactions, advising on the pareto-effectiveness of conflict resolution in relation to incentive structures, and methodically grounding analysis in the ideas of the dilemma structure and the homo economicus. Such an economic reconstruction of Genesis questions conventional theological suggestions on the role and extent to which the Bible invokes metaphysical concepts and metaphysical intervention for analyzing and solving social problems.