Meeting at Grand Central: Understanding the Social and Evolutionary Roots of Cooperation

Princeton University Press
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From the family to the workplace to the marketplace, every facet of our lives is shaped by cooperative interactions. Yet everywhere we look, we are confronted by proof of how difficult cooperation can be--snarled traffic, polarized politics, overexploited resources, social problems that go ignored. The benefits to oneself of a free ride on the efforts of others mean that collective goals often are not met. But compared to most other species, people actually cooperate a great deal. Why is this?

Meeting at Grand Central brings together insights from evolutionary biology, political science, economics, anthropology, and other fields to explain how the interactions between our evolved selves and the institutional structures we have created make cooperation possible. The book begins with a look at the ideas of Mancur Olson and George Williams, who shifted the question of why cooperation happens from an emphasis on group benefits to individual costs. It then explores how these ideas have influenced our thinking about cooperation, coordination, and collective action. The book persuasively argues that cooperation and its failures are best explained by evolutionary and social theories working together. Selection sometimes favors cooperative tendencies, while institutions, norms, and incentives encourage and make possible actual cooperation.



Meeting at Grand Central will inspire researchers from different disciplines and intellectual traditions to share ideas and advance our understanding of cooperative behavior in a world that is more complex than ever before.

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About the author

Lee Cronk is professor of anthropology at Rutgers University. He is the author of That Complex Whole: Culture and the Evolution of Human Behavior. Beth L. Leech is associate professor of political science at Rutgers University. She is the coauthor of Basic Interests: The Importance of Groups in Politics and in Political Science (Princeton).
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Additional Information

Publisher
Princeton University Press
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Published on
Oct 28, 2012
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Pages
264
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ISBN
9781400845484
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Language
English
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Genres
Business & Economics / Economics / General
Political Science / General
Political Science / History & Theory
Science / Life Sciences / Evolution
Social Science / Anthropology / General
Social Science / Sociology / General
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Eligible for Family Library

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Tradition recognises five social sciences: anthropology, economies, social psychology, sociology, and political science. But who knows what is going on in all five disciplines? Social scientists from one discipline often know little or nothing about the progress made by social scientists from another discipline working on essentially the same social problem. Sometimes, even of a neighbouring discipline is terra incognita. the methodology The problem becomes worse when we widen the remit to natural scientists and engineers. I have found little evidence myself that they see themselves as standing on the other side of an unbridgeable golf between two cultures. They observe the intellectual excesses of those few 'newage' social scientists who see themselves fighting a 'science war', but the ignorance of these innumerate critics is so apparent in their grossly naive attacks on natural science, that they are not taken seriously. However, although natural scientists appreciate that most social science is genuine science, they seldom know much about how and why it is done as it iso This can lead to serious inefficiencies in areas in which the traditional frontiers between social and natural science are melting away. An example is the frontier between the economies of imperfeet competition and evolutionary biology. Reversing the usual bias, the evolutionary biologists commonly know little mathematics, and hence find the game theory literature hard to read, with the result that they often spend their time re-inventing the wheel.
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.

"Lobbyists at Work is a must-read for anyone interested in the serious business of government. Leech's probing questions reflect her years of research tracking the real impact of money and influence on policy." —Thomas Hale Boggs, Jr. (Chairman, Patton Boggs LLP)

Received wisdom has it that lobbyists run the American government on behalf of moneyed interests. But what makes lobbyists run, and how do they induce legislators and bureaucrats to do their bidding? These are questions for which even the harshest critics lack satisfying answers. Lobbyists at Work explores what lobbyists really do and why. It goes behind the scenes and brings back in-depth interviews with fifteen political advocates chosen to represent the breadth and diversity of the lobbying profession.

The interviewees profiled in this book range from the top lobbyists-for-hire at the most powerful K Street firms to pro bono lobbyists for the disenfranchised and powerless. The roster spans all types of lobbyists working for all types of clients and seeking to influence all levels and branches of government. The permutations include business-lobbying-government, government-lobbying-government, government-to-business revolving door, regulatory lobbying, state and local lobbying, citizen-advocacy lobbying,single-issue lobbying, and multiple-issue lobbying. In colorful and sometimes hilarious detail, the interviewees take the reader through their arsenals of traditional and next-generation lobbying techniques, including face-to-face persuasion of elected officials and their staffs, educational campaigns and coalition-building, ghost-drafting complex legislation and regulation for government committees and agencies, contributions, and social media campaigns.

In Lobbyists at Work, the normally self-effacing subjects open up about themselves and their profession: why they chose to become lobbyists, what motivates them to keep lobbying, how they cultivate their lobbying influence, how they adjust to changes in the rules affecting their lobbying methods, and what they actually do at work each day (and night). As an authority on lobbying respected in Washington for her impartiality, Professor Beth Leech elicits frank disclosures, career tips, and riveting stories about the good, the bad, and the ambivalent on both sides of the symbiotic relationship between government officials and lobbyists.

New York Times Bestseller

A Summer Reading Pick for President Barack Obama, Bill Gates, and Mark Zuckerberg

From a renowned historian comes a groundbreaking narrative of humanity’s creation and evolution—a #1 international bestseller—that explores the ways in which biology and history have defined us and enhanced our understanding of what it means to be “human.”

One hundred thousand years ago, at least six different species of humans inhabited Earth. Yet today there is only one—homo sapiens. What happened to the others? And what may happen to us?

Most books about the history of humanity pursue either a historical or a biological approach, but Dr. Yuval Noah Harari breaks the mold with this highly original book that begins about 70,000 years ago with the appearance of modern cognition. From examining the role evolving humans have played in the global ecosystem to charting the rise of empires, Sapiens integrates history and science to reconsider accepted narratives, connect past developments with contemporary concerns, and examine specific events within the context of larger ideas.

Dr. Harari also compels us to look ahead, because over the last few decades humans have begun to bend laws of natural selection that have governed life for the past four billion years. We are acquiring the ability to design not only the world around us, but also ourselves. Where is this leading us, and what do we want to become?

Featuring 27 photographs, 6 maps, and 25 illustrations/diagrams, this provocative and insightful work is sure to spark debate and is essential reading for aficionados of Jared Diamond, James Gleick, Matt Ridley, Robert Wright, and Sharon Moalem.

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