Analyse & Kritik
Journal of Philosophy and Social Theory
Ed. by Baurmann, Michael / Leist, Anton / Tranow, Ulf
Human cooperation is held to be an evolutionary puzzle because people voluntarily engage in costly cooperation, and costly punishment of non-cooperators, even among anonymous strangers they will never meet again. The costs of such cooperation cannot be recovered through kin-selection, reciprocal altruism, indirect reciprocity, or costly signaling. A number of recent authors label this behavior ‘strong reciprocity’, and argue that it is: (a) a newly documented aspect of human nature, (b) adaptive, and (c) evolved by group selection. We argue exactly the opposite; that the phenomenon is: (a) not new, (b) maladaptive, and (c) evolved by individual selection. In our perspective, the apparent puzzle disappears to reveal a biological and evolutionary logic to human cooperation. Group selection may play a role in theory, but it is neither necessary nor sufficient to explain human cooperation. Our alternative solution is simpler, makes fewer assumptions, and is more parsimonious with the empirical data.
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