Biology and Philosophy 33 (1-2):16 (2018)

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Abstract
In recent years, there has been growing awareness among evolutionary ethicists that systems of cooperation based upon “weak” reciprocity mechanisms lack scalability, and are therefore inadequate to explain human ultrasociality. This has produced a shift toward models that strengthen the cooperative mechanism, by adding various forms of commitment or punishment. Unfortunately, the most prominent versions of this hypothesis wind up positing a discredited mechanism as the basis of human ultrasociality, viz. a “greenbeard.” This paper begins by explaining what a greenbeard is, and why evolutionary theorists are doubtful that such a mechanism could play a significant role in explaining human prosociality. It goes on to analyze several recent philosophical works in evolutionary ethics, in order to show how the suggestion that morality acts as a commitment device tacitly relies upon a greenbeard mechanism to explain human cooperation. It concludes by showing how some early scientific models in the “evolution of cooperation” literature, which introduced punishment as a device to enhance cooperation, also tacitly relied upon a greenbeard mechanism.
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DOI 10.1007/s10539-018-9627-1
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References found in this work BETA

Language, Truth and Logic.Alfred Jules Ayer - 1936 - London: V. Gollancz.
A Natural History of Human Morality.Michael Tomasello (ed.) - 2016 - Harvard University Press.

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Citations of this work BETA

The red-beard evolutionary explanation of human sociality.Vaios Koliofotis - 2021 - History and Philosophy of the Life Sciences 43 (4):1-17.

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