A Cooperative Species: Human Reciprocity and Its Evolution

Princeton University Press
3
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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.

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About the author

Samuel Bowles heads the Behavioral Sciences Program at the Santa Fe Institute and teaches economics at the University of Siena. Herbert Gintis holds faculty positions at the Santa Fe Institute, Central European University, and the University of Siena.
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Additional Information

Publisher
Princeton University Press
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Published on
May 31, 2011
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Pages
280
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ISBN
9781400838837
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Language
English
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Genres
Business & Economics / Economics / Theory
Mathematics / Game Theory
Science / Life Sciences / Evolution
Social Science / Sociology / General
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Available on Android devices
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Eligible for Family Library

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Herbert Gintis
Since its original publication in 2000, Game Theory Evolving has been considered the best textbook on evolutionary game theory. This completely revised and updated second edition of Game Theory Evolving contains new material and shows students how to apply game theory to model human behavior in ways that reflect the special nature of sociality and individuality. The textbook continues its in-depth look at cooperation in teams, agent-based simulations, experimental economics, the evolution and diffusion of preferences, and the connection between biology and economics.

Recognizing that students learn by doing, the textbook introduces principles through practice. Herbert Gintis exposes students to the techniques and applications of game theory through a wealth of sophisticated and surprisingly fun-to-solve problems involving human and animal behavior. The second edition includes solutions to the problems presented and information related to agent-based modeling. In addition, the textbook incorporates instruction in using mathematical software to solve complex problems. Game Theory Evolving is perfect for graduate and upper-level undergraduate economics students, and is a terrific introduction for ambitious do-it-yourselfers throughout the behavioral sciences.

Revised and updated edition relevant for courses across disciplines Perfect for graduate and upper-level undergraduate economics courses Solutions to problems presented throughout Incorporates instruction in using computational software for complex problem solving Includes in-depth discussions of agent-based modeling
Samuel Bowles
Is the United States "the land of equal opportunity" or is the playing field tilted in favor of those whose parents are wealthy, well educated, and white? If family background is important in getting ahead, why? And if the processes that transmit economic status from parent to child are unfair, could public policy address the problem? Unequal Chances provides new answers to these questions by leading economists, sociologists, biologists, behavioral geneticists, and philosophers.

New estimates show that intergenerational inequality in the United States is far greater than was previously thought. Moreover, while the inheritance of wealth and the better schooling typically enjoyed by the children of the well-to-do contribute to this process, these two standard explanations fail to explain the extent of intergenerational status transmission. The genetic inheritance of IQ is even less important. Instead, parent-offspring similarities in personality and behavior may play an important role. Race contributes to the process, and the intergenerational mobility patterns of African Americans and European Americans differ substantially.

Following the editors' introduction are chapters by Greg Duncan, Ariel Kalil, Susan E. Mayer, Robin Tepper, and Monique R. Payne; Bhashkar Mazumder; David J. Harding, Christopher Jencks, Leonard M. Lopoo, and Susan E. Mayer; Anders Björklund, Markus Jäntti, and Gary Solon; Tom Hertz; John C. Loehlin; Melissa Osborne Groves; Marcus W. Feldman, Shuzhuo Li, Nan Li, Shripad Tuljapurkar, and Xiaoyi Jin; and Adam Swift.

Herbert Gintis
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Everything distinctive about human social life, Gintis argues, flows from the fact that we construct and then play social games. Indeed, society itself is a game with rules, and politics is the arena in which we affirm and change these rules. Individuality is central to our species because the rules do not change through inexorable macrosocial forces. Rather, individuals band together to change the rules. Our minds are also socially entangled, producing behavior that is socially rational, although it violates the standard rules of individually rational choice. Finally, a moral sense is essential for playing games with socially constructed rules. People generally play by the rules, are ashamed when they break the rules, and are offended when others break the rules, even in societies that lack laws, government, and jails.

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Among the sources of the poverty of nations, the authors assign a primary role to social and political institutions, ranging from corruption to seemingly benign social customs such as kin systems. Many of the institutions that keep nations poor have deep roots in colonial history and persist long after their initial causes are gone.

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