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A Cooperative Species – Human Reciprocity and Its Evolution - Princeton Scholarship Online
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A Cooperative Species: Human Reciprocity and Its Evolution

Samuel Bowles and Herbert Gintis


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. This book shows 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 book describes ... More

Keywords: common good, group competition, human cooperation, evolution, ethical norms, sacrifice, social emotions, shame, guilt, social norms

Bibliographic Information

Print publication date: 2011 Print ISBN-13: 9780691151250
Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: October 2017 DOI:10.23943/princeton/9780691151250.001.0001


Affiliations are at time of print publication.

Samuel Bowles, author
Santa Fe Institute

Herbert Gintis, author
University of Massachusetts