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A Cooperative SpeciesHuman Reciprocity and Its Evolution$
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Samuel Bowles and Herbert Gintis

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780691151250

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: October 2017

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691151250.001.0001

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The Evolution of Altruism in Humans

The Evolution of Altruism in Humans

(p.8) 2 The Evolution of Altruism in Humans
A Cooperative Species

Samuel Bowles

Herbert Gintis

Princeton University Press

This chapter focuses on the evolution of altruism in humans. Following William Hamilton, it uses the term “helping” to describe behaviors that confer benefits on others and reserves the term “altruism” for helping in situations where the helper would benefit in fitness or other material ways by withholding help. The discussion begins with an analysis of the proximal influences on an individual action such as helping using the beliefs, preferences, and constraints approach common to economics and decision theory. According to this approach, what individuals do when restricted to a specific set of feasible actions depends on their desires and goals on the one hand, and their beliefs on the other. The chapter also considers the link between social preferences and social dilemmas before concluding with an overview of a gene-culture coevolution model of group-structured populations, one assumption of which is: an explanation of the evolution of human cooperation must be contingent upon the empirical evidence.

Keywords:   evolution, altruism, helping behavior, beliefs, preferences, constraints, social preferences, social dilemmas, gene-culture coevolution, human cooperation

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