What a wonderful finding!
Two rival theories have been put forward as to why: one suggests that we’re fair to strangers because we mistakenly treat them like kin, the other that social conditioning makes us this way. In a recent edition of the journal Science, new evidence is presented that comes down solidly on the side of social conditioning. The researchers found that people who live in small groups and who grow or catch most of their own food don’t really care that much whether they’re fair or unfair to strangers, or whether a stranger is punished for being unfair. But people who trade for a larger percentage of their daily food and therefore live in more integrated, larger social groups, are much more likely to be fair to strangers.
So, imagine you were the sort of airey fairey lefty who thinks that the world would be a much better place if we all just trusted each other a little more. If we were nice to strangers, picked up a little more of that heavy burden of caring for all humanity rather than just the selfish regard for just ourselves and our kith and kin.
You know, a bit more agape in the social mix?
So what should be your recommendation for the economic base of the society? Should you be arguing, as such airey fairey lefties do, that we should be more self-sufficient? That we should grow our own food, produce our own energy, knit lentils by tofu light?
Actually, no, you shouldn’t. You should be arguing that as much as possible, just about anything and everything, should be done via market production rather than household production. For it is the interaction with other people that makes us more fair, that makes us trust others more, leads us to consider the interests of strangers.
Thus there is an entirely moral case (rather than the more usually entirely mechanistic one) for globalisation as providing the finest society possible.
Ain’t that fun?