Questioning the cultural evolution of altruism
J.-B. ANDRE´ *ŕ & O. MORIN
*CNRS UMR7206 Eco-anthropologie et ethnobiologie, MNHN, Universite´ Paris Diderot, F75005 Paris, France
Department of Cognitive Science, Central European University, Budapest, Hungary
ŕLaboratoire Ecologie et Evolution, UMR 7625, CNRS, Ecole Normale Supe´rieure, Paris, France
In models or verbal arguments, many scholars have
suggested that cooperation in human societies cannot
emerge solely because of its benefits to individuals.
Mechanisms such as reciprocity or reputation, they
argue, do not suffice (e.g. Boyd & Richerson, 1985, ch.
7; Boyd & Richerson, 1988; Fehr & Fischbacher, 2003).
They have thus proposed that genuinely altruistic ten-
dencies must constitute, in a way or another, the cement
of human societies. These tendencies are often referred to
as `strong reciprocity' (Gintis, 2000; Gintis et al., 2003).
Human beings, so they argue, are willing to sacrifice time
and resources to the exclusive benefit of others, and this
is why they are able to sustain cooperation on a large