martes, febrero 19, 2008

Why don't Chimpanzees Like To Barter Food?

Apparently, Chimpanzees can learn to barter food, but they don't do so unless there are very significan gains. This reluctance can exist because they don´t have social enforcement of property rigths for external objects. For example, a third chimp is not compeled morally to punish an individual that cheats its trading partner by running off with both goods being traded. Given the high risk of this event, the chimps opt not to engage in such behaviour unless the gains compensate the risks.

In the other side, chimps actively barter services. This is in agreement with the previous assumption because the services offered by chimps are not related to external objects, so these services are not affected by the lack of property rigths.

In this experiment, the traded objects are commodities (food) really appreciated by them in the natural environmment.

The article:

Why Don't Chimpanzees Like To Barter Food?

ScienceDaily (2008-02-05) -- Scientists examines the circumstances under which chimpanzees, our closest relatives, will exchange one inherently valuable commodity (an apple slice) for another (a grape), which is what early humans must have somehow learned to do. The researchers found that chimpanzees often did not spontaneously barter food items, but needed to be trained to engage in commodity barter. ... ;
read full article

The human case is more complex. We barter commodities whenever property rigths are enforced. We understand the gains of individual trade inside a community. But apparently we don´nt appreciate the gains of largue scale trading with specialisation. We do it because as actors, we understand our gains when confronted face to face with the other. But , for example, we ate competition. Competition is neccesary for specialization, because specialization needs collaboration and coordination among different specialists, and this implies that each speciallist choose the best collaborator, this drive competition. The whole thing is a positive sum game that creates wealth, but we only perceive the first step neccesary to enter in this chain: competition, that is