The return of reciprocity: A psychological approach to the evolution of cooperation

Biology and Philosophy 23 (4):555-566 (2008)
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Recent developments in evolutionary game theory argue the superiority of punishment over reciprocity as accounts of large-scale human cooperation. I introduce a distinction between a behavioral and a psychological perspective on reciprocity and punishment to question this view. I examine a narrow and a wide version of a psychological mechanism for reciprocity and conclude that a narrow version is clearly distinguishable from punishment, but inadequate for humans; whereas a wide version is applicable to humans but indistinguishable from punishment. The mechanism for reciprocity in humans emerges as a meta-norm that governs both retaliation and punishment. I make predictions open to empirical investigation to confirm or disconfirm this view.



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Alejandro Rosas
Universidad Nacional de Colombia