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A Cooperative Species

Book Description

Why do humans, uniquely among animals, cooperate in large numbers to advance projects for the common good? Contrary to the conventional wisdom in biology and economics, this generous and civic-minded behavior is widespread and cannot be explained simply by far-sighted self-interest or a desire to help close genealogical kin.

In A Cooperative Species, Samuel Bowles and Herbert Gintis--pioneers in the new experimental and evolutionary science of human behavior--show that the central issue is not why selfish people act generously, but instead how genetic and cultural evolution has produced a species in which substantial numbers make sacrifices to uphold ethical norms and to help even total strangers.

The authors describe how, for thousands of generations, cooperation with fellow group members has been essential to survival. Groups that created institutions to protect the civic-minded from exploitation by the selfish flourished and prevailed in conflicts with less cooperative groups. Key to this process was the evolution of social emotions such as shame and guilt, and our capacity to internalize social norms so that acting ethically became a personal goal rather than simply a prudent way to avoid punishment.

Using experimental, archaeological, genetic, and ethnographic data to calibrate models of the coevolution of genes and culture as well as prehistoric warfare and other forms of group competition, A Cooperative Species provides a compelling and novel account of how humans came to be moral and cooperative.

Table of Contents

  1. Cover
  2. Half title
  3. Title
  4. Copyright
  5. Dedication
  6. Contents
  7. Preface
  8. 1 A Cooperative Species
  9. 2 The Evolution of Altruism in Humans
    1. 2.1 Preferences, Beliefs, and Constraints
    2. 2.2 Social Preferences and Social Dilemmas
    3. 2.3 Genes, Culture, Groups, and Institutions
    4. 2.4 Preview
  10. 3 Social Preferences
    1. 3.1 Strong Reciprocity Is Common
    2. 3.2 Free-Riders Undermine Cooperation
    3. 3.3 Altruistic Punishment Sustains Cooperation
    4. 3.4 Effective Punishment Depends on Legitimacy
    5. 3.5 Purely Symbolic Punishment Is Effective
    6. 3.6 People Punish Those Who Hurt Others
    7. 3.7 Social Preferences Are Not Irrational
    8. 3.8 Culture and Institutions Matter
    9. 3.9 Behavior Is Conditioned on Group Membership
    10. 3.10 People Enjoy Cooperating and Punishing Free-Riders
    11. 3.11 Social Preferences in Laboratory and Natural Settings
    12. 3.12 Competing Explanations
  11. 4 The Sociobiology of Human Cooperation
    1. 4.1 Inclusive Fitness and Human Cooperation
    2. 4.2 Modeling Multi-level Selection
    3. 4.3 Equilibrium Selection
    4. 4.4 Reciprocal Altruism
    5. 4.5 Reciprocal Altruism in Large Groups
    6. 4.6 Reputation: Indirect Reciprocity
    7. 4.7 Altruism as a Signal of Quality
    8. 4.8 Positive Assortment
    9. 4.9 Mechanisms and Motives
  12. 5 Cooperative Homo economicus
    1. 5.1 Folk Theorems and Evolutionary Dynamics
    2. 5.2 The Folk Theorem with Imperfect Public Information
    3. 5.3 The Folk Theorem with Private Information
    4. 5.4 Evolutionarily Irrelevant Equilibria
    5. 5.5 Social Norms and Correlated Equilibria
    6. 5.6 The Missing Choreographer
  13. 6 Ancestral Human Society
    1. 6.1 Cosmopolitan Ancestors
    2. 6.2 Genetic Evidence
    3. 6.3 Prehistoric Warfare
    4. 6.4 The Foundations of Social Order
    5. 6.5 The Crucible of Cooperation
  14. 7 The Coevolution of Institutions and Behaviors
    1. 7.1 Selective Extinction
    2. 7.2 Reproductive Leveling
    3. 7.3 Genetic Differentiation between Groups
    4. 7.4 Deme Extinction and the Evolution of Altruism
    5. 7.5 The Australian Laboratory
    6. 7.6 The Coevolution of Institutions and Altruism
    7. 7.7 Simulating Gene-Culture Coevolution
    8. 7.8 Levelers and Warriors
  15. 8 Parochialism, Altruism, and War
    1. 8.1 Parochial Altruism and War
    2. 8.2 The Emergence of Parochial Altruism and War
    3. 8.3 Simulated and Experimental Parochial Altruism
    4. 8.4 The Legacy of a Past “Red in Tooth and Claw”
  16. 9 The Evolution of Strong Reciprocity
    1. 9.1 Coordinated Punishment
    2. 9.2 Altruistic Punishment in a Realistic Demography
    3. 9.3 The Emergence of Strong Reciprocity
    4. 9.4 Why Coordinated Punishment Succeeds
    5. 9.5 A Decentralized Social Order
  17. 10 Socialization
    1. 10.1 Cultural Transmission
    2. 10.2 Socialization and the Survival of Fitness-Reducing Norms
    3. 10.3 Genes, Culture, and the Internalization of Norms
    4. 10.4 The Internalized Norm as Hitchhiker
    5. 10.5 The Gene-Culture Coevolution of a Fitness-Reducing Norm
    6. 10.6 How Can Internalized Norms Be Altruistic?
    7. 10.7 The Programmable Brain
  18. 11 Social Emotions
    1. 11.1 Reciprocity, Shame, and Punishment
    2. 11.2 The Evolution of Social Emotions
    3. 11.3 The “Great Captains of Our Lives”
  19. 12 Conclusion: Human Cooperation and Its Evolution
    1. 12.1 The Origins of Human Cooperation
    2. 12.2 The Future of Cooperation
  20. Appendix
    1. A1 Altruism Defined
    2. A2 Agent-Based Models
    3. A3 Game Theory
    4. A4 Dynamical Systems
    5. A5 The Replicator Dynamic
    6. A6 Continuation Probability and Time Discount Factor
    7. A7 Alternatives to the Standing Model
    8. A8 The Prisoner’s Dilemma with Public and Private Signals
    9. A9 Student and Nonstudent Experimental Subjects
    10. A10 The Price Equation
    11. A11 Weak Multi-level Selection
    12. A12 Cooperation and Punishment with Quorum Sensing
  21. References
  22. Subject Index
  23. Author Index