Has punishment played a role in the evolution of cooperation? A critical review

Mind and Society 9 (2):171-192 (2010)
  Copy   BIBTEX

Abstract

In the past decade, experiments on altruistic punishment have played a central role in the study of the evolution of cooperation. By showing that people are ready to incur a cost to punish cheaters and that punishment help to stabilise cooperation, these experiments have greatly contributed to the rise of group selection theory. However, despite its experimental robustness, it is not clear whether altruistic punishment really exists. Here, I review the anthropological literature and show that hunter-gatherers rarely punish cheaters. Instead, they avoid dealing with them and switch to other partners. I suggest that these data are better explained by individual selection, and in particular by partner choice models, in which individuals are in competition to be recruited by cooperative partners. I discuss two apparent problems for partner choice theories: large-scale cooperation and punishments in economic games. I suggest that rather than favouring group selection theory, these two phenomena provide evidence in favour of individual selection: (1) people produce large-scale cooperation through institutions in which punishment is not altruistic but rewarded on an individual basis; (2) punishment in experimental games can be explained without altruism and is indeed often better explained by individual interests

Links

PhilArchive



    Upload a copy of this work     Papers currently archived: 91,271

External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server

Through your library

Similar books and articles

Altruism, altruistic punishment and social investment.Klaus Jaffe - 2004 - Acta Biotheoretica 52 (3):155-172.
Strong reciprocity and the emergence of large-scale societies.Benoît Dubreuil - 2008 - Philosophy of the Social Sciences 38 (2):192-210.
The Role of Learning in Punishment, Prosociality, and Human Uniqueness.Fiery Cushman - 2013 - In Kim Sterelny, Richard Joyce, Brett Calcott & Ben Fraser (eds.), Cooperation and its Evolution. MIT Press.

Analytics

Added to PP
2010-09-14

Downloads
54 (#285,939)

6 months
5 (#592,531)

Historical graph of downloads
How can I increase my downloads?

Author's Profile

Nicolas Baumard
Institut Jean Nicod