Indirect reciprocity and the evolution of “moral signals”

Biology and Philosophy 25 (1):33-51 (2010)
Signals regarding the behavior of others are an essential element of human moral systems and there are important evolutionary connections between language and large-scale cooperation. In particular, social communication may be required for the reputation tracking needed to stabilize indirect reciprocity. Additionally, scholars have suggested that the benefits of indirect reciprocity may have been important for the evolution of language and that social signals may have coevolved with large-scale cooperation. This paper investigates the possibility of such a coevolution. Using the tools of evolutionary game theory, we present a model that incorporates primitive “moral signaling” into a simple setting of indirect reciprocity. This model reveals some potential difficulties for the evolution of “moral signals.” We find that it is possible for “moral signals” to evolve alongside indirect reciprocity, but without some external pressure aiding the evolution of a signaling system, such a coevolution is unlikely.
Keywords No keywords specified (fix it)
Categories (categorize this paper)
 Save to my reading list
Follow the author(s)
My bibliography
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Revision history Request removal from index
Download options
PhilPapers Archive

Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy on self-archival     Papers currently archived: 9,360
External links
  •   Try with proxy.
  • Through your library Configure
    References found in this work BETA
    William F. Harms (2000). Adaptation and Moral Realism. Biology and Philosophy 15 (5):699-712.

    View all 18 references

    Citations of this work BETA
    Similar books and articles

    Monthly downloads

    Added to index


    Total downloads

    19 ( #74,868 of 1,089,057 )

    Recent downloads (6 months)

    1 ( #69,801 of 1,089,057 )

    How can I increase my downloads?

    My notes
    Sign in to use this feature

    Start a new thread
    There  are no threads in this forum
    Nothing in this forum yet.