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Darwin's Unfinished Symphony$
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Kevin N. Laland

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780691182810

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: May 2019

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691182810.001.0001

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Foundations of Cooperation

Foundations of Cooperation

Chapter:
(p.264) Chapter 11 Foundations of Cooperation
Source:
Darwin's Unfinished Symphony
Author(s):

Kevin N. Laland

Publisher:
Princeton University Press
DOI:10.23943/princeton/9780691182810.003.0011

This chapter reveals that there is strong evidence that the large-scale cooperation observed solely in human societies arises because of our uniquely potent capacities for social learning, imitation, and teaching, combined with the coevolutionary feedbacks that these capabilities have generated on the human mind. Culture took human populations down evolutionary pathways not available to noncultural species, either by creating conditions that promoted established cooperative mechanisms, such as indirect reciprocity and mutualism; or by generating novel cooperative mechanisms not seen in other taxa, such as cultural group selection. In the process, gene–culture coevolution seemingly generated an evolved psychology, comprising an enhanced ability and motivation to learn, teach, communicate through language, imitate, and emulate, as well as predispositions to docility, social tolerance, and the sharing of goals, intentions, and attention. The chapter concludes that this evolved psychology is entirely different from that observed in any other animal, or that could have evolved through genes alone.

Keywords:   cooperation, human society, large-scale cooperation, culture, cooperative mechanisms, gene–culture coevolution, evolved psychology

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