Co-Operative Punishment Cements Social Cohesion
Most current attempts to explain the evolution - through individual selection - of pro-social behavior (i.e. behavior that favors the group) that allows for cohesive societies among non related individuals, focus on altruistic punishment as its evolutionary driving force. The main theoretical problem facing this line of research is that in the exercise of altruistic punishment the benefits of punishment are enjoyed collectively while its costs are borne individually. We propose that social cohesion might be achieved by a form of punishment, widely practiced among humans and animals forming bands and engaging in mob beatings, which we call co-operative punishment. This kind of punishment is contingent upon - not independent from - the concurrent participation of other actors. Its costs can be divided among group members in the same way as its benefits are, and it will be favoured by evolution as long as the benefits exceed the costs. We show with computer simulations that co-operative punishment is an evolutionary stable strategy that performs better in evolutionary terms than non-cooperative punishment, and demonstrate the evolvability and sustainability of pro-social behavior in an environment where not necessarily all individuals participate in co-operative punishment. Co-operative punishment together with pro-social behavior produces a self reinforcing system that allows the emergence of a 'Darwinian Leviathan' that strengthens social institutions.
Volume (Year): 13 (2010)
Issue (Month): 3 ()
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