Altruism, altruistic punishment and social investment

Acta Biotheoretica 52 (3):155-172 (2004)
The concept of altruism is used in very different forms by computer scientists,economists, philosophers, social scientists, psychologists and biologists. Yet, in order to be useful in social simulations, the concept altruism requires a more precise meaning. A quantitative formulation is proposed here, based on the cost/benefit analysis of the altruist and of society at large. This formulation is applied in the analysis of the social dynamic working of behaviors that have been called altruistic punishments, using the agent based computer model Sociodynamica. The simulations suggest that altruistic punishment on its own cannot maintain altruistic behaviors. Altruistic behavior is sustainable in the long term only if these behaviors trigger synergetic forces in society that eventually make them produce benefits to most individuals. The simulations suggest however that altruistic punishment may work as a social investment , and is thus better called decentralized social punishment. This behavior is very efficient in enforcing social norms. The efficiency of decentralized social punishment in enforcing norms was dependent on the type of labor structured of the virtual society. I conclude that what is called altruistic punishment emerges as a type of social investment that can evolve either through individual and/or group selection, as a successful device for changing or enforcing norms in a society. Social simulations will help us in better understanding the underlying dynamic working of such devices.
Keywords Philosophy   Philosophy of Biology   Evolutionary Biology
Categories (categorize this paper)
DOI 10.1023/B:ACBI.0000043440.36462.1a
 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
Our Archive

Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy     Papers currently archived: 28,182
External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
Through your library
References found in this work BETA

No references found.

Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

No citations found.

Add more citations

Similar books and articles

Monthly downloads

Added to index


Total downloads

22 ( #228,530 of 2,172,025 )

Recent downloads (6 months)

1 ( #325,967 of 2,172,025 )

How can I increase my downloads?

My notes
Sign in to use this feature

There  are no threads in this forum
Nothing in this forum yet.

Other forums