The Evolution of Uniquely Human Prosocial Behaviors

Dennis L. Krebs

in The Origins of Morality

Published in print August 2011 | ISBN: 9780199778232
Published online September 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780199897261 | DOI:
The Evolution of Uniquely Human Prosocial Behaviors

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This chapter reviews and evaluates accounts of how the mental mechanisms that dispose people to emit uniquely human forms of prosocial behavior evolved, beginning with Boehm’s proposition that morality originated when subordinate members of hierarchically-ordered groups of early humans banded together to suppress the selfishness of dominant members. Alexander’s proposition that altruistic dispositions were selected when simple systems of direct reciprocity became expanded into complex systems of indirect reciprocity is then discussed. Following this, the controversy between theorists who account for uniquely human prosocial behaviors in terms of gene-culture co-evolution and theorists who account for them in terms of individual selection is reviewed.

Keywords: uniquely human prosocial behaviors; altruistic dispositions; concrete reciprocity; indirect reciprocity; gene-culture co-evolution; Boehm; Alexander

Chapter.  7195 words. 

Subjects: Psychology

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