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What Makes Humans Economically Distinctive? A Three-Species Evolutionary Comparison and Historical Analysis

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  • Christopher Boehm

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    Abstract

    The fundamental problem, of what makes humans economically distinctive, is addressed here by using a highly focused cross-species analysis to examine the evolution of property relations. Chimpanzees and bonobos are compared with mobile human foragers, and it is argued that our egalitarian political practices, in conjunction with variance-reduction practices we applied prehistorically to large-game meat consumption, led to a critical evolutionary transformation. The transition began with private property at the ancestral level, but ended with humans having not only private property, but communal property. Copyright Kluwer Academic Publishers 2004

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    File URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10.1023/B:JBIO.0000040455.83350.1d
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    Bibliographic Info

    Article provided by Springer in its journal Journal of Bioeconomics.

    Volume (Year): 6 (2004)
    Issue (Month): 2 (May)
    Pages: 109-135

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    Handle: RePEc:kap:jbioec:v:6:y:2004:i:2:p:109-135

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    Web page: http://www.springerlink.com/link.asp?id=103315

    Related research

    Keywords: bonobos; chimpanzees; communal property; egalitarianism; hunter–gatherers; private property; social control; social evolution; variance reduction;

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    1. Samuel Bowles & Herbert Gintis, 1998. "The Evolution of Strong Reciprocity," Research in Economics 98-08-073e, Santa Fe Institute.
    2. Samuel Bowles & Astrid Hopfensitz, 2000. "The Co-evolution of Individual Behaviors and Social Institutions," Working Papers 00-12-073, Santa Fe Institute.
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    Cited by:
    1. Janet Landa & Michael Ghiselin, 2005. "The Economics and Bioeconomics of Classification: Introduction," Journal of Bioeconomics, Springer, vol. 7(3), pages 215-220, December.

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