Journal of Social Ontology 5 (2):181-203 (2019)

Michael Vlerick
Tilburg University
Influential thinkers such as Young, Sugden, Binmore, and Skyrms have developed game-theoretic accounts of the emergence, persistence and evolution of social contracts. Social contracts are sets of commonly understood rules that govern cooperative social interaction within societies. These naturalistic accounts provide us with valuable and important insights into the foundations of human societies. However, current naturalistic theories focus mainly on how social contracts solve coordination problems in which the interests of the individual participants are aligned, not competition problems in which individual interests compete with group interests. In response, I set out to build on those theories and provide a comprehensive naturalistic account of the emergence, persistence and evolution of social contracts. My central claim is that social contracts have culturally evolved to solve cooperation problems, which include both coordination and competition problems. I argue that solutions to coordination problems emerge from “within-group” dynamics, while solutions to competition problems result largely from “between-group” dynamics.
Keywords Social Contracts   Game Theory   Cultural Evolution   Coordination Problems   Competition Problems   Within-Group Dynamics   Between-Group Dynamics   Cultural Group Selection
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DOI 10.1515/jso-2019-0041
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Explaining human altruism.Michael Vlerick - forthcoming - Synthese:1-19.

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