Theories of the evolution of cooperative behaviour: A critical survey plus some new results
Gratuitous cooperation (in favour of non-relatives and without repeated interaction) eludes traditional evolutionary explanations. In this paper we survey the various theories of cooperative behaviour, and we describe our own effort to integrate these theories into a self-contained framework. Our main conclusions are as follows. First: altruistic punishment, conformism and gratuitous cooperation co-evolve, and group selection is a necessary ingredient for the co-evolution to take place. Second: people do not cooperate by mistake, as most theories imply; on the contrary, people knowingly sacrifice themselves for others. Third: in cooperative dilemmas conformism is an expression of preference, not a learning rule. Fourth, group-mutations (e.g., the rare emergence of a charismatic leader that brings order to the group) are necessary to sustain cooperation in the long run.
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