Revelation, Rationality and Institutional Design

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Date
1976
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Abstract
"Among the sources of tension in American society is a substantial ambivalence toward competition. American children, like those in most other modernized societies are given a dual behavioral standard. For most social interactions, competition is an accepted and even a favored mode of behavior. In the family, however, unselfish and altruistic behavior is upheld as the ideal. Thus, the child is expected to learn to adjust his behavior to differing situations. Careful discrimination, then, becomes very important in determining appropriate action in any given situation. "There is no society that is perfectly successful in its acculturation of its children. Further, no individual is capable of perfect discrimination. He cannot apply one standard with perfection outside the family context, and concurrently apply another within. These weaknesses invariably create problems and tensions. "One effort to resolve the problem involves the establishment of a communally organized society. Such a society is noted for its relative absence of individual property rights. Material wealth is dispersed equally among the members of the group and property is held in common. Since all share equally in group assets, the opportunity for discrimination among individuals on the basis of wealth is reduced, if not entirely absent."
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institutional design, rationality
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