Exponential random graph modeling (ERGM) is used here to test hypotheses derived from human behavioral ecology about the adaptive nature of human foodsharing. Respondents in all (n = 317) households in the fishing and sea-hunting village of Lamalera, Indonesia, were asked to name those households to whom they had more frequently given (and from whom they had more frequently received) food during the preceding sea-hunting season. The responses were used to construct a social network of between-household (...)food-sharing relationships in the village. The results show that kinship, proximity, and reciprocal sharing all strongly increase the probability of giving food to a household. The effects of kinship and distance are relatively independent of each other, although reciprocity is more common among residentially and genealogically close households. The results show support for reciprocal altruism as a motivation for foodsharing, while kinship and distance appear to be important partner-choice criteria. (shrink)
We describe food transfer patterns among Ache Indians living on a permanent reservation. The social atmosphere at the reservation is characterized by a larger group size, a more predictable diet, and more privacy than the Ache typically experience in the forest while on temporary foraging treks. Although sharing patterns vary by resource type and package size, much of the food available at the reservation is given to members of just a few other families. We find significant positive (...) correlations between amounts transferred among pairs of families, a measure of the "contingency" component required of reciprocal altruism models. These preferred sharing partners are usually close kin. We explore implications of these results in light of predictions from current sharing models. (shrink)
In The Ethics of Food, Gregory E. Pence brings together a collection of voices who share the view that the ethics of genetically modified food is among the most pressing societal questions of our time. This comprehensive collection addresses a broad range of subjects, including the meaning of food, moral analyses of vegetarianism and starvation, the safety and environmental risks of genetically modified food, issues of global food politics and the food industry, and the (...) relationships among food, evolution, and human history. (shrink)
Evolutionary models consider hunting and foodsharing to be milestones that paved the way from primate to human societies. Because fossil evidence is scarce, hominoid primates serve as referential models to assess our common ancestors’ capacity in terms of communal use of resources, foodsharing, and other forms of cooperation. Whereas chimpanzees form male-male bonds exhibiting resource-defense polygyny with intolerance and aggression toward nonresidents, bonobos form male-female and female-female bonds resulting in relaxed relations with neighboring groups. (...) Here we report the first known case of meat sharing between members of two bonobo communities, revealing a new dimension of social tolerance in this species. This observation testifies to the behavioral plasticity that exists in the two Pan species and contributes to scenarios concerning the traits of the last common ancestor of Pan and Homo. It also contributes to the discussion of physiological triggers of in-group/out-group behavior and allows reconsideration of the emergence of social norms in prehuman societies. (shrink)
Can evolutionary models explain foodsharing in traditional human societies? Gurven's analysis cannot rule out any of the models (kin selection, reciprocal altruism, tolerated scrounging, costly signaling, or by-product mutualism), and quantitative partitioning of relative importance is not feasible. For now, the hypotheses seem like the proverbial blind men examining the elephant: each was partly in the right, and all were in the wrong!
Gurven discusses three key features of foodsharing, specifically producer control, need, and contingency. I make two general points regarding the use of these variables in tests of food-sharing hypotheses. First, that these variables are relative, not absolute concepts; and second, that the predictions generated from these variables overlap significantly. In addition, I suggest frequency of sharing as a measure of contingency for the RA hypothesis.
I agree with Gurven that costly signaling can explain food-sharing phenomena. However, costly signaling may also explain the role of foodsharing in deterring rivals. Details of food-sharing interactions may reveal gains and losses in the social prestige of the interacting parties. The evolutionary models of kin selection and of reciprocal altruism are unstable and should be avoided.
The fish-sharing patterns on Ifaluk Atoll underscore several limitations of the explanations of foodsharing offered by Gurven and suggest that non-foraging labor activities may provide insights into reciprocity and punishment relevant for understanding food-sharing patterns. I also argue that future food-sharing studies should focus on signaling rather than resource holding potential (RHP).
Despite the proliferation of sharing economy initiatives in agri-food systems, the recent literature has still not unravelled what sharing exactly entails from an organizational standpoint. In light of this knowledge gap, this study aims to understand which resources are shared, and how, in a heterogeneous set of sharing economy initiatives in the context of food and agriculture. Specifically, this study compares the organization of various forms of alternative food networks, which are recognized to be (...) frugal forms of sharing economy initiatives, in terms of leadership, bureaucracy, shared resources and participants’ engagement. Data from a comparative case study across 18 AFNs identify five sharing economy models of AFNs with distinctive shared resources and organizational mechanisms: consumer groups; commercial community gardens; as well as network-based, privately owned and publicly owned self-consumption community gardens. These models also display notable differences in terms of their origins, participants’ goals and constraints which, to some extent, may be associated to the nature of their organization. Findings inform policy-makers, AFNs’ leaders and stakeholders—especially those seeking to support innovative models towards sustainable transitions—on how to tailor institutional norms and develop networks to meet the heterogeneous needs of different typologies of sharing economy initiatives in agri-food systems. (shrink)
The transfer of food among group members is a ubiquitous feature of small-scale forager and forager-agricultural populations. The uniqueness of pervasive sharing among humans, especially among unrelated individuals, has led researchers to evaluate numerous hypotheses about the adaptive functions and patterns of sharing in different ecologies. This article attempts to organize available cross-cultural evidence pertaining to several contentious evolutionary models: kin selection, reciprocal altruism, tolerated scrounging, and costly signaling. Debates about the relevance of these models focus primarily (...) on the extent to which individuals exert control over the distribution of foods they acquire, and the extent to which donors receive food or other fitness-enhancing benefits in return for shares given away. Each model can explain some of the variance in sharing patterns within groups, and so generalizations that ignore or deny the importance of any one model may be misleading. Careful multivariate analyses and cross-cultural comparisons of food transfer patterns are therefore necessary tools for assessing aspects of the sexual division of labor, human life history evolution, and the evolution of the family. This article also introduces a framework for better understanding variation in sharing behavior across small-scale traditional societies. I discuss the importance of resource ecology and the degree of coordination in acquisition activities as a key feature that influences sharing behavior. Key Words: behavioral ecology; cooperation; costly signaling; foodsharing; foragers; reciprocal altruism. (shrink)
Recent analyses of foodsharing in small-scale societies indicate that reciprocal altruism maintains interhousehold food transfers, even among close kin. In this study, matrix-based regression methods are used to test the explanatory power of reciprocal altruism, kin selection, and tolerated scrounging. In a network of 35 households in Nicaragua’s Bosawas Reserve, the significant predictors of foodsharing include kinship, interhousehold distance, and reciprocity. In particular, resources tend to flow from households with relatively more meat to (...) closely related households with little, as predicted by kin selection. This generalization is especially true of household dyads with mother-offspring relationships, which suggests that studies of foodsharing may benefit from distinctions between lineal and collateral kin. Overall, this analysis suggests that exchanges among kin are primarily associated with differences in need, not reciprocity. Finally, although large game is distributed widely, qualitative observations indicate that hunters typically do not relinquish control of the distribution in ways predicted by costly signaling theory. (shrink)
In this study meal sharing is used as a way of quantifying food transfers between households. Traditional food-sharing studies measure the flow of resources between households. Meal sharing, in contrast, measures food consumption acts according to whether one is a host or a guest in the household as well as the movement of people between households in the context of food consumption. Our goal is to test a number of evolutionary models of (...) class='Hi'>food transfers, but first we argue that before one tests models of who should receive food one must understand the adaptiveness of food transfers. For the Ye’kwana, economies of scale in food processing and preparation appear to set the stage for the utility of meal sharing. Evolutionary models of meal sharing, such as kin selection and reciprocal altruism, are evaluated along with non-evolutionary models, such as egalitarian exchange and residential propinquity. In addition, a modified measure of exchange balance—proportional balance—is developed. Reciprocal altruism is shown to be the strongest predictor of exchange intensity and balance. (shrink)
We use data collected among Hadza hunter-gatherers between 2005 and 2009 to examine hypotheses about the causes and consequences of men’s foraging and foodsharing. We find that Hadza men foraged for a range of food types, including fruit, honey, small animals, and large game. Large game were shared not like common goods, but in ways that significantly advantaged producers’ households. Foodsharing and consumption data show that men channeled the foods they produced to their (...) wives, children, and their consanguineal and affinal kin living in other households. On average, single men brought food to camp on 28% of days, married men without children at home on 31% of days, and married men with children at home on 42% of days. Married men brought fruit, the least widely shared resource, to camp significantly more often than single men. A model of the relationship between hunting success and household food consumption indicates that the best hunters provided 3–4 times the amount of food to their families than median or poor hunters. These new data fill important gaps in our knowledge of the subsistence economy of the Hadza and uphold predictions derived from the household and kin provisioning hypotheses. Key evidence and assumptions backing prior claims that Hadza hunting is largely a form of status competition were not replicated in our study. In light of this, family provisioning is a more viable explanation for why good hunters are preferred as husbands and have higher fertility than others. (shrink)
The study of reciprocal altruism, or the exchange of goods and services between individuals, requires attention to both evolutionary explanations and proximate mechanisms. Evolutionary explanations have been debated at length, but far less is known about the proximate mechanisms of reciprocity. Our own research has focused on the immediate causes and contingencies underlying services such as foodsharing, grooming, and cooperation in brown capuchin monkeys and chimpanzees. Employing both observational and experimental techniques, we have come to distinguish three (...) types of reciprocity. Symmetry-based reciprocity is cognitively the least complex form, based on symmetries inherent in dyadic relationships (e.g., mutual association, kinship). Attitudinal reciprocity, which is more cognitively complex, is based on the mirroring of social attitudes between partners and is exhibited by both capuchin monkeys and chimpanzees. Finally, calculated reciprocity, the most cognitively advanced form, is based on mental scorekeeping and is found only in humans and possibly chimpanzees. (shrink)
Anthropological tests of patch choice models from optimal foraging theory have primarily employed acquisition rates as the currency of the model. Where foragers share their returns, acquisition rates may not be similar to consumption rates and thus may not be an appropriate currency to use when modeling foraging decisions. Indeed, on Ifaluk Atoll the distribution patterns of fish vary by fishing method and location. Previous analyses of Ifaluk patch choice decisions suggested that if Ifaluk fishers are trying to maximize their (...) production rates they should rarely torch fish for dogtoothed tuna. However, some men do spend considerable time and energy exploiting the dogtoothed tuna patch. To improve our understanding of the constraints and motivations influencing men’s decisions to exploit this patch, here I use per capita consumption rates as a currency, rather than production rates, to evaluate predictions generated from a patch choice model. Results indicate that although fish caught in other patches are more widely distributed than fish caught in the dogtoothed tuna patch, the consumption rates of torch fishers and their kin are still considerably lower than the consumption rates of men pursuing fish in other patches. Although these results are unable to explain why Ifaluk men exploit the dogtoothed tuna patch, an important explanatory hypothesis is eliminated. (shrink)
Foodsharing may be used for mate attraction, sexual access, or mate retention in humans, as in many other species. Adult humans tend to perceive more intimacy in a couple if feeding is observed, but the increased perceived intimacy may be due to resource provisioning rather than feeding per se. To address this issue, 210 university students (66 male) watched five short videos, each showing a different mixed-sex pair of adults dining together and including feeding or simple provisioning (...) or no foodsharing. A survey concerning attraction and intimacy in the dyad was completed after each video. Both provisioning and feeding produced higher ratings of “Involvement,” with feeding producing the highest ratings. Similarly, the perceived attraction of each actor to the other was lowest when no foodsharing was shown and highest when feeding was displayed. These findings are consistent with a view of feeding as a courtship display in humans. (shrink)
This paper focuses on examining the dynamic nature of community supported agriculture (CSA) and the real-world experiences which mark its contours, often making it distinct from the early idealized CSA “model.” Specifically, our study examines the narratives of the farmers of Devon Acres CSA over its duration, in tandem with a survey of recent shareholders in order to understand and explain its evolution. The framework we develop here shows that this CSA is largely characterized by instrumental and functional beliefs and (...) practices, with some elements in the collaborative mode. A key contribution of this research is the development of a framework which helps to highlight the relative fluidity and patchwork quality of CSA participant positions over time. At Devon Acres, the real-world factors and issues influencing CSA evolution are seen to be products of both the local and larger contexts, evident in such areas as shifts in farmer learning and adaptation, differences between beliefs and practices in member volunteer efforts, and changes in farm and resource conditions. With respect to CSA more broadly, we argue that the reality of dominant food system context and site-specific influences on CSA development compels us to rework our attachment to early idealized “model” traits. Expansion in CSA numbers, evidence of adaptation and situated learning, and retention of the local and organic as core traits, speak to the pragmatic yet transformative potential of CSA contribution to food system change. (shrink)
Anecdotal evidence from many hunter-gatherer societies suggests that successful hunters experience higher prestige and greater reproductive success. Detailed quantitative data on these patterns are now available for five widely dispersed cases (Ache, Hadza, !Kung, Lamalera, and Meriam) and indicate that better hunters exhibit higher age-corrected reproductive success than other men in their social group. Leading explanations to account for this pattern are: (1) direct provisioning of hunters’ wives and offspring, (2) dyadic reciprocity, (3) indirect reciprocity, (4) costly signaling, and (5) (...) phenotypic correlation. I examine the qualitative and quantitative evidence bearing on these explanations and conclude that although none can be definitively rejected, extensive and apparently unconditional sharing of large game somewhat weakens the first three explanations. The costly signaling explanation has support in some cases, although the exact nature of the benefits gained from mating or allying with or deferring to better hunters needs further study. (shrink)
“Fair and equitable benefit-sharing” is one of the objectives of the UN Convention on Biological Diversity and the FAO International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture. In essence, benefit-sharing holds that countries, farmers, and indigenous communities that grant access to their plant genetic resources and/or traditional knowledge should share in the benefits that users derive from these resources. But what exactly is understood by “fair” and “equitable” in this context? Neither term is defined in (...) the international treaties. A complicating factor, furthermore, is that different motivations and perspectives exist with respect to the notion of benefit-sharing itself. This paper looks at six different approaches to benefit-sharing that can be extracted from the current debates on “Access and Benefit-Sharing.” These approaches form the basis of a philosophical reflection in which the different connotations of “fair and equitable” are considered, by analyzing the main principles of justice involved. Finally, the various principles are brought together in order to draw some conclusions as to how a fair and equitable benefit-sharing mechanism might best be realized. This results in several recommendations for policymakers. (shrink)
Actor network theory and supply chainmanagement theory provide suggestive researchdirections for understanding regional agri-foodnetworks. These theories claim that relationshipsbased upon trust and cooperation are critical to thestrength and vitality of the network. This means thatexploring and detailing these relationships among thesuppliers, producers, workers, processors, brokers,wholesalers, and retailers within specific regionalgeographies of these networks are critical forfurthering cooperation and trust. Key areas ofcooperation include resource sharing andapprenticeship programs. Employing food networks as akey unit of contextual analysis will deepen ourunderstanding (...) of how to enhance their resiliency andvibrancy. Important questions can be raised about thedifference gender makes for farmers, brokers,entrepreneurs, and workers in local food networks. (shrink)
Engagement happens when academics and non-academics form partnerships to create mutual understanding, and then take action together. An example is the “value web” work associated with W. K. Kellogg Foundation’s Food Systems Higher Education–Community Partnership. Partners nationally work on local food systems development by building value webs. “Value chains,” a concept with considerable currency in the private sector, involves creating non-hierarchical relationships among otherwise disparate actors and entities to achieve collective common goals. The value web concept is extended (...) herein by separating the values of the web itself, such as the value of collaboration, from values “in” the web, such as credence values associated with a product or service. By sharing and discussing case examples of work underway around the United States, the authors make a case for employing the value webs concept to represent a strategy for local food systems development, specifically, and for higher education–community partnerships, generally. (shrink)
Empirical data on foodsharing in native Dolgan, Nganasan, and Nenets communities in Siberia provide evidence for hunter control over big game and fish, as well as likely benefits of inter-household sharing. Most foodsharing occurs with kin and, thus, kin-selection-based nepotism cannot be ruled out. Reciprocal interhousehold sharing at meals occurs less often. Social context is discussed.
In the archaeology of early prehistory, human-animal relations are often understood in terms of economy or evolution. Our various hominin ancestors are understood in terms of their development away from non-human animals, while animals themselves are considered as a resource or raw material. But people’s understandings of their own interactions with animals would not have been in these terms: real interactions with animals—including hunting, killing, and eating them—were significant, intimate acts. Using the work of Deleuze and Guatarri, Derrida, Haraway, and (...) others it is possible to suggest alternative ways in which past people may have understood their relationships to animals. (shrink)
There is increased recognition of a common suite of global challenges that hamper food system sustainability at the community scale. Food price volatility, shortages of basic commodities, increased global rates of obesity and non-communicable food-related diseases, and land grabbing are among the impediments to socially just, economically robust, ecologically regenerative and politically inclusive food systems. While international political initiatives taken in response to these challenges and the groundswell of local alternatives emerging in response to challenges are (...) well documented, more attention is needed to the analysis of similarities between community approaches to global pressures. While we are not suggesting the application of a template set of good practices, the research reported in this paper point to the benefits of both sharing good practices and enabling communities to adopt good practices that are suited to their place-based capacities. The work also suggests that sharing community-derived good practices can support and reinforce global networks of sustainable community food systems, foster knowledge co-creation and ultimately cement collective action to global pressures. In turn these networks could enhance the sustainability and resilience of community food systems and facilitate wide scale food system transformation. (shrink)
From seed to table, the food chain is gendered. When seeds and food are in women’s hands, seeds reproduce and multiply freely, food is shared freely and respected. However, women’s seed and food economy has been discounted as “productive work.” Women’s seed and food knowledge has been discounted as knowledge. Globalization has led to the transfer of seed and food from women’s hands to corporate hands. Seed is now patented and genetically engineered. It is (...) treated as the creation and “property” of corporations like Monsanto. Renewable seed becomes nonrenewable. Sharing and saving seed becomes a crime. Diversity, nourished by centuries of women’s breeding, disappears, and with it the culture and natural evolution that is embodied in the diversity is lost forever. Food, too, is transformed in corporate hands. It is no longer our nourishment; it becomes a commodity. And as a commodity it can be manipulated and monopolized. If food grain makes more money as cattle feed than it does as food for human consumption, it becomes cattle feed. If food grain converted to biofuel to run automobiles is more profitable, it becomes ethanol and biodiesel. (shrink)
We examined how information from multiple communication channels can inform social norms about local food purchasing. The concept of social exposure was used as a guide. Social exposure articulates how information in social, symbolic, and physical environments contributes to normative perceptions. Data was collected from a sample in Wisconsin. Results indicated that information from communication channels representing symbolic, social, and physical environments all contributed to normative perceptions. We also found that for individuals who frequent farmers’ markets, information from some (...) communication channels was relatively less strongly associated with injunctive norms. It may be that when first-hand, experiential information is available to inform norms, individuals rely less on information available through other communication channels. Future work might further explore how farmers’ markets foster information sharing in communities, as such information may contribute to normative perceptions. (shrink)
Emissions arising from the production and consumption of food are acknowledged as a major contributor to climate change. From a consumer’s perspective, however, the sustainability of food may have many meanings: it may result from eating less meat, becoming vegetarian, or choosing to buy local or organic food. To explore what food sustainability means to consumers, and what factors lead to changes in food practice, we adopt a sociotechnical approach to compare the food consumption (...) practices in North West England with two differing consumer groups. The first, supermarket shoppers ‘embedded’ in the mainstream food regime; and the second, who self-identify as sustainable food practitioners, and who perform a range of sustainable food consumption practices. We examine how our two groups experience changes in food practices and identify ‘fractures’ stemming from lifecourse and public events that emerge as points where change might occur. We suggest that ‘sharing spaces’ would be one possibility for prompting and nurturing fractures that can lead to greater sustainability in food practices. (shrink)
This article builds on the food sovereignty literature to ask pointed questions about the interplay of market forces and political liberalism. Specifically, we use cuisine as a lens to interrogate the assumption that multiculturalism is compatible with Indigenous food sovereignty. Because multicultural inclusion is the means by which Indigenous Peoples’ gastronomies are commodified and alienated, they experience not gastronomic multiculturalism but culinary colonialism. Accordingly, food sovereignty in colonial contexts must embrace both the active sharing and the (...) mindful withholding of food as political acts, and acknowledge that culinary culture is not simply a market commodity but also a politically-embedded process. In drawing together the threads of this argument, we advocate for a broadening of the discussion on Indigenous food sovereignty to include the resistance and resurgence enacted through gastronomy. (shrink)
This paper analyses the attitudes of different genders and age groups toward Italian food in Korea. By asking who consumes it, and with whom, how, when, and why, this paper examines the cross-cultural meaning of Italian food and how it is differently perceived by men and women of different ages in Korea. It argues that Italian food is perceived by consumers as sharing female traits and that this, in turn, lends a particular eating experience.
In this essay, I present eating as a vital theological concern and an integral part of the church’s ministries and mission in the world. I argue that food is not reducible to the status of a commodity but is instead God’s love made delectable. The production and the sharing of good food is a witness to God’s presence among us.
This paper presents quantitative data on altruistic cooperation during food acquisition by Ache foragers. Cooperative activities are defined as those that entail a cost of time and energy to the donor but primarily lead to an increase in the foraging success of the recipient. Data show that Ache men and women spend about 10% of all foraging time engaged in altruistic cooperation on average, and that on some days they may spend more than 50% of their foraging time in (...) such activities. The most time-consuming cooperative activity for both sexes is helping during the pursuit of game animals, a pattern that is probably linked to the widespread sharing of game by Ache foragers. Cooperative food acquisition and subsequent food redistribution in hunter-gatherer societies are critical behaviors that probably helped shape universal, evolved, cooperative tendencies that are well illustrated in modern experimental economics. (shrink)
Natural Justice is a bold attempt to lay the foundations for a genuine science of morals using the theory of games. Since human morality is no less a product of evolution than any other human characteristic, the book takes the view that we need to explore its origins in the food-sharing social contracts of our prehuman ancestors. It is argued that the deep structure of our current fairness norms continues to reflect the logic of these primeval social contracts, (...) but the particular fairness norm a society operates is largely a product of cultural evolution. In pursuing this point, the book proposes a naturalistic reinterpretation of John Rawls' original position that reconciles his egalitarian theory of justice with John Harsanyi's utilitarian theory by identifying the environment appropriate to each. (shrink)
This paper provides strong evidence challenging the self-interest assumption that dominates the behavioral sciences and much evolutionary thinking. The evidence indicates that many people have a tendency to voluntarily cooperate, if treated fairly, and to punish noncooperators. We call this behavioral propensity “strong reciprocity” and show empirically that it can lead to almost universal cooperation in circumstances in which purely self-interested behavior would cause a complete breakdown of cooperation. In addition, we show that people are willing to punish those who (...) behaved unfairly towards a third person or who defected in a Prisoner’s Dilemma game with a third person. This suggests that strong reciprocity is a powerful device for the enforcement of social norms involving, for example, foodsharing or collective action. Strong reciprocity cannot be rationalized as an adaptive trait by the leading evolutionary theories of human cooperation (in other words, kin selection, reciprocal altruism, indirect reciprocity, and costly signaling theory). However, multilevel selection theories of cultural evolution are consistent with strong reciprocity. (shrink)
To what degree has biology influenced and shaped the development of moral systems? One way to determine the extent to which human moral systems might be the product of natural selection is to explore behaviour in other species that is analogous and perhaps homologous to our own. Many non-human primates, for example, have similar methods to humans for resolving, managing, and preventing conflicts of interests within their groups. Such methods, which include reciprocity and foodsharing, reconciliation, consolation, conflict (...) intervention, and mediation, are the very building blocks of moral systems in that they are based on and facilitate cohesion among individuals and reflect a concerted effort by community members to find shared solutions to social conflict. Furthermore, these methods of resource distribution and conflict resolution often require or make use of capacities for empathy, sympathy, and sometimes even community concern. Non-human primates in societies in which such mechanisms are present may not be exactly moral beings, but they do show signs of a sense of social regularity that -- just like the norms and rules underlying human moral conduct -- promotes a mutually satisfactory modus vivendi. (shrink)
This paper presents a comparison of social kinship (patrilineage) and biological kinship (genetic relatedness) in predicting cooperative relationships in two different economic contexts in the fishing and whaling village of Lamalera, Indonesia. A previous analysis (Alvard, Human Nature 14:129–163, 2003) of boat crew affiliation data collected in the village in 1999 found that social kinship (patrilineage) was a better predictor of crew affiliation than was genetic kinship. A replication of this analysis using similar data collected in 2006 finds the same (...) pattern: lineage is a better predictor than genetic kinship of crew affiliation, and the two together explain little additional variance over that explained by lineage alone. However, an analogous test on food-sharing relationships finds the opposite pattern: biological kinship is a better predictor of food-sharing relationships than is social kinship. The difference between these two cooperative contexts is interpreted in terms of kin preferences that shape partner choice, and the relative autonomy with which individuals can seek to satisfy those preferences. Drawing on stable matching theory, it is suggested that unilineal descent may serve as a stable compromise among multiple individuals’ incongruent partner preferences, with patriliny favored over matriliny in the crew-formation context because it leads to higher mean degrees of relatedness among male cooperators. In the context of food-sharing, kin preferences can be pursued relatively autonomously, without the necessity of coordinating preferences with those of other households through the institution of lineage. (shrink)
The parsimonious consideration of research into foodsharing among chimpanzees suggests that the type of social regulation found among our closest genetic relatives can best be understood as a form of morality. Morality is here defined from a naturalistic perspective as a system in which self-aware individuals interact through socially prescribed, psychologically realistic rules of conduct which provide these individuals with an awareness of how one ought to behave. The empirical markers of morality within chimpanzee communities and the (...) traditional moral traits to which they correspond are (1) self-awareness/agency; (2) calculated reciprocity/obligation; (3) moralistic aggression/blame; and (4) consolation/empathy. (shrink)
My answer to the question why? is relatively uncontroversial among anthropologists. Sharingfood makes good evolutionary sense, because animals who share food thereby insure themselves against hunger. It is for this reason that sharingfood is thought to be so common in the natural world. The vampire bat is a particularly exotic example of a food-sharing species. The bats roost in caves in large numbers during the day. At night, they forage for prey, (...) from whom they suck blood if they can, but they aren’t always successful. If they fail to obtain blood for several successive nights, they die. The evolutionary pressure to share blood is therefore strong. The biologist Wilkinson  reports that a hungry bat begs for blood from a roostmate, who will sometimes respond by regurgitating some of the blood it is carrying in its own stomach. This isn’t too surprising when the roostmates are related, but the bats also share blood with roostmates who aren’t relatives. The behaviour is nevertheless evolutionarily stable, because the sharing is done on a reciprocal basis, which means that a bat is much more likely to help out a roostmate that has helped it out in the past. Bats that refuse to help out their fellows therefore risk not being helped out themselves in the future. Vampire bats have their own way of sharing, and we have ours. We call our way of sharing “fairness”. If the accidents of our evolutionary history had led to our sharing in some other way, it would not occur to us to attribute some special role to our current fairness norms. Whatever alternative norms we then.. (shrink)
To what degree has biology influenced and shaped the development of moral systems? One way to determine the extent to which human moral systems might be the product of natural selection is to explore behaviour in other species that is analogous and perhaps homologous to our own. Many non-human primates, for example, have similar methods to humans for resolving, managing, and preventing conflicts of interests within their groups. Such methods, which include reciprocity and foodsharing, reconciliation, consolation, conflict (...) intervention, and mediation, are the very building blocks of moral systems in that they are based on and facilitate cohesion among individuals and reflect a concerted effort by community members to find shared solutions to social conflict. Furthermore, these methods of resource distribution and conflict resolution often require or make use of capacities for empathy, sympathy, and sometimes even community concern. Non-human primates in societies in which such mechanisms are present may not be exactly moral beings, but they do show signs of a sense of social regularity that—just like the norms and rules underlying human moral conduct—promotes a mutually satisfactory modus vivendi. (shrink)
It is well known that humans represent the mental states of others and use these representations to successfully predict, understand, and manipulate their behaviour. This is an impressive ability. Many comparative psychologists believe that some non-human apes and monkeys attribute mental states to others. But is this ability unique to mammals? In this paper, I review findings from a range of behavioural studies on corvids, including food caching, food recaching and foodsharing studies. In order to (...) protect their caches from being pilfered, corvids successfully keep track of observing conspecifics, employ a number of caching and recaching strategies, and exploit environmental factors to reduce the amount of visual and auditory information available to observing conspecifics. When giving food items as gifts, corvids give items for which conspecifics have developed a preference. I argue that the available evidence supports the hypothesis that corvids attribute mental states to conspecifics. I further hypothesize that corvids do so through process-driven simulation and the running of non-verbal multimodal rules accomplished by a class of mental representations called semantic pointers. (shrink)
Economic institutions governing such activities as foodsharing among non-kin, the accumulation and inheritance of wealth, and the division of labor and its rewards are human-constructed environments capable of imparting distinctive direction and pace to the process of biological evolution and cultural change. Where differing structures of these institutions take the form of distinct conventions sustained by (near) mutual adherence, small initial differences may support divergent evolutionary trajectories even in the absence of conformist behaviors.
Among hunter-gatherers, the sharing of male and female foods is often assumed to result in virtually the same diet for males and females. Although foodsharing is widespread among the hunting and gathering Hadza of Tanzania, women were observed eating significantly more tubers than men. This study investigates the relationship between patterns of dental wear, diet, and extramasticatory use of teeth among the Hadza. Casts of the upper dentitions were made from molds taken from 126 adults and (...) scored according to the Murphy dental attrition scoring system. Females had significantly greater anterior occlusal wear than males when we controlled for age. Males exhibited greater asymmetry in wear, with greater wear on the left side in canines, first premolars, and first molars. We suggest that these sex differences in wear patterns reflect the differences seen in the diet, as well as in the use of teeth as tools. (shrink)