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Why Multilevel Selection Matters

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  • Alexander Field

Abstract

In spite of its checkered intellectual history, and in spite of the myriad proposals of alternative models that claim to account for the broad range of human behavior and to dispense with the need for selection above the organism level, a multilevel selection framework remains the only coherent means of accounting for the persistence and spread of behavioral inclinations which, at least upon first appearance at low frequency, would have been biologically altruistic. This argument is advanced on three tracks: through a review of experimental and observational evidence inconsistent with a narrow version of rational choice theory, through a critique of models or explanations purporting to account for prosocial behavior through other means, and via elaboration of the mechanisms, plausibility, and intellectual history of group selection.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Philipps University Marburg, Department of Geography in its series Papers on Economics and Evolution with number 2004-19.

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Length: 31 pages
Date of creation: Dec 2004
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:esi:evopap:2004-19

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References

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  1. Roth, Alvin E. & Vesna Prasnikar & Masahiro Okuno-Fujiwara & Shmuel Zamir, 1991. "Bargaining and Market Behavior in Jerusalem, Ljubljana, Pittsburgh, and Tokyo: An Experimental Study," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 81(5), pages 1068-95, December.
  2. Becker, Gary S, 1976. "Altruism, Egoism, and Genetic Fitness: Economics and Sociobiology," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 14(3), pages 817-26, September.
  3. Greif, Avner, 1989. "Reputation and Coalitions in Medieval Trade: Evidence on the Maghribi Traders," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 49(04), pages 857-882, December.
  4. Samuelson, Paul A, 1993. "Altruism as a Problem Involving Group versus Individual Selection in Economics and Biology," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 83(2), pages 143-48, May.
  5. Ken Binmore, 1994. "Game Theory and the Social Contract, Volume 1: Playing Fair," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262023636, December.
  6. Henrich, Joseph, 2004. "Reply," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 53(1), pages 127-143, January.
  7. Henrich, Joseph & Boyd, Robert & Bowles, Samuel & Camerer, Colin & Fehr, Ernst & Gintis, Herbert (ed.), 2004. "Foundations of Human Sociality: Economic Experiments and Ethnographic Evidence from Fifteen Small-Scale Societies," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780199262052, Octomber.
  8. Ernst Fehr & Urs Fischbacher & Michael Kosfeld, 2005. "Neuroeconomic Foundations of Trust and Social Preferences: Initial Evidence," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 95(2), pages 346-351, May.
  9. Field, Alexander James, 1981. "The problem with neoclassical institutional economics: A critique with special reference to the North/Thomas model of pre-1500 Europe," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 18(2), pages 174-198, April.
  10. Herbert Gintis, 2000. "Strong Reciprocity and Human Sociality," UMASS Amherst Economics Working Papers 2000-02, University of Massachusetts Amherst, Department of Economics.
  11. Hirshleifer, J, 1978. "Competition, Cooperation, and Conflict in Economics and Biology," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 68(2), pages 238-43, May.
  12. Field, Alexander James, 1991. "Do legal systems matter?," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 28(1), pages 1-35, January.
  13. Field, Alexander James, 1984. "Microeconomics, Norms, and Rationality," Economic Development and Cultural Change, University of Chicago Press, vol. 32(4), pages 683-711, July.
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Cited by:
  1. John Hartwick, 2007. "Encephalization and Division of Labor by Early Humans," Working Papers 1161, Queen's University, Department of Economics.
  2. Janet Landa, 2008. "The bioeconomics of homogeneous middleman groups as adaptive units: Theory and empirical evidence viewed from a group selection framework," Journal of Bioeconomics, Springer, vol. 10(3), pages 259-278, December.
  3. Alexander Field, 2014. "Prosociality and the military," Journal of Bioeconomics, Springer, vol. 16(2), pages 129-154, July.
  4. Janet Landa, 2009. "Homogeneous middleman groups as superorganisms, endogamous ethnic groups, and trust networks: Reply to comments on Janet Landa’s target article, ‘The bioeconomics of homogeneous middleman groups a," Journal of Bioeconomics, Springer, vol. 11(2), pages 191-199, August.
  5. David Wilson, 2009. "Convergent cultural evolution and multilevel selection: Reply to comments on Janet Landa’s ‘The bioeconomics of homogenous middleman groups as adaptive units: Theory and empirical evidence viewed ," Journal of Bioeconomics, Springer, vol. 11(2), pages 185-190, August.
  6. Alexander Field, 2008. "Biological and cultural group selection: Comments on Janet Landa’s paper," Journal of Bioeconomics, Springer, vol. 10(3), pages 287-290, December.
  7. van den Bergh, Jeroen C.J.M. & Gowdy, John M., 2009. "A group selection perspective on economic behavior, institutions and organizations," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 72(1), pages 1-20, October.
  8. Alexander J. Field, 2014. "Schelling, von Neumann, and the Event that Didn’t Occur," Games, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 5(1), pages 53-89, February.

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