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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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Cooperative Homo economicus

Cooperative Homo economicus

(p.79) 5 Cooperative Homo economicus
A Cooperative Species

Samuel Bowles

Herbert Gintis

Princeton University Press

This chapter examines whether recent advances in the theory of repeated games, as exemplified by the so-called folk theorem and related models, address the shortcomings of the self-interest based models in explaining human cooperation. It first provides an overview of folk theorems and their account of evolutionary dynamics before discussing the folk theorem with either imperfect public information or private information. It then considers evolutionarily irrelevant equilibrium as well as the link between social norms and the notion of correlated equilibrium. While the insight that repeated interactions provide opportunities for cooperative individuals to discipline defectors is correct, the chapter argues that none of the game-theoretic models mentioned above is successful. Except under implausible conditions, the cooperative outcomes identified by these models are neither accessible nor persistent, and are thus labeled evolutionarily irrelevant Nash equilibria.

Keywords:   repeated game, folk theorem, self-interest, human cooperation, evolutionary dynamics, public information, private information, social norms, correlated equilibrium

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