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Cell-Gazing Into the Future: What Genes, Homo heidelbergensis , and Punishment Tell Us About Our Adaptive Capacity

Author

Listed:
  • Jeffrey Andrews

    () (Department of Resource Economics and Environmental Sociology, University of Alberta, General Services Building, Edmonton, Alberta, T6G2H1, Canada)

  • Debra J. Davidson

    () (Department of Resource Economics and Environmental Sociology, University of Alberta, General Services Building, Edmonton, Alberta, T6G2H1, Canada)

Abstract

If we wish to understand how our species can adapt to the coming tide of environmental change, then understanding how we have adapted throughout the course of evolution is vital. Evolutionary biologists have been exploring these questions in the last forty years, establishing a solid record of evidence that conventional, individual-based models of natural selection are insufficient in explaining social evolution. More recently, this work has supported a growing consensus that our evolution, in which we have expressed extra-ordinary adaptive capacities, can best be explained by “Multi-level Selection”, a theory that includes the influence of both genes and culture to support unique adaptive capacities premised on pro-social behaviours and group selection, not individual-level competition for survival. Applying this scholarship to contemporary concerns about adapting to environmental change may be quite fruitful for identifying sources of vulnerability and adaptive capacity, thereby informing efforts to enhance the likelihood for sustainable futures. Doing so, however, requires that we bridge the gap between evolutionary biology, and the social sciences study of sustainability.

Suggested Citation

  • Jeffrey Andrews & Debra J. Davidson, 2013. "Cell-Gazing Into the Future: What Genes, Homo heidelbergensis , and Punishment Tell Us About Our Adaptive Capacity," Sustainability, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 5(2), pages 1-10, February.
  • Handle: RePEc:gam:jsusta:v:5:y:2013:i:2:p:560-569:d:23324
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Henrich, Joseph, 2004. "Cultural group selection, coevolutionary processes and large-scale cooperation," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 53(1), pages 3-35, January.
    2. Simon Gachter & Ernst Fehr, 2000. "Cooperation and Punishment in Public Goods Experiments," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 90(4), pages 980-994, September.
    3. Gabriele Schino, 2007. "Grooming and agonistic support: a meta-analysis of primate reciprocal altruism," Behavioral Ecology, International Society for Behavioral Ecology, vol. 18(1), pages 115-120, January.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    More about this item

    Keywords

    adaptation; adaptive capacity; evolutionary biology; cooperation; climate change;

    JEL classification:

    • Q - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics
    • Q0 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - General
    • Q2 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Renewable Resources and Conservation
    • Q3 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Nonrenewable Resources and Conservation
    • Q5 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics
    • Q56 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics - - - Environment and Development; Environment and Trade; Sustainability; Environmental Accounts and Accounting; Environmental Equity; Population Growth
    • O13 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Agriculture; Natural Resources; Environment; Other Primary Products

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