A Cooperative Species: Human Reciprocity and Its Evolution
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A Cooperative Species: Human Reciprocity and Its Evolution

3.43 of 5 stars 3.43  ·  rating details  ·  14 ratings  ·  3 reviews
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 Her...more
Hardcover, 262 pages
Published June 20th 2011 by Princeton University Press (first published May 1st 2011)
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Clarence Williams
An outstanding book on the evolution of altruism. Most notably, Bowles & Gintis help us understand the role of punishment and inter-group competition, two necessary elements that many other theorists omit.
Bob Nichols
This book challenges kin selection theory as a basis for various forms of reciprocity and cooperation. The authors almost start with the fact that we cooperate for mutual benefit, that we will even extend benefits to non-related others at a cost to ourselves (true altruism), and that such other-regardedness can and does extend to strangers. Importantly - it seems to be seldom noted in the sociobiological literature - the authors note Darwin's observation (Descent, 1871) about in-group cooperatio...more
Dan Gibbons
While it is quite mathematical and thus partly inaccessible to the lay reader (for whom I would recommend The Company of Strangers, which treads much of the same ground in a more accessible format), this book is an incredibly important work. The central thesis is twofold: that humans have social preferences as well as self-regarding ones (including punishing defectors even when this lowers their own payoff, maintaining reputation even in one-shot games and parochial attitudes to in-group members...more
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