Joeri Witteveen
University of Copenhagen
Biological market theory has in recent years become an important part of the social evolutionist’s toolkit. This article discusses the explanatory potential and pitfalls of biological market theory in the context of big picture accounts of the evolution of human cooperation and morality. I begin by assessing an influential account that presents biological market dynamics as a key driver of the evolution of fairness norms in humans. I argue that this account is problematic for theoretical, empirical, and conceptual reasons. After mapping the evidential and explanatory limits of biological market theory, I suggest that it can nevertheless fill a lacuna in an alternative account of hominin evolution. Trade on a biological marketplace can help explain why norm-based cooperation did not break down when our late-Pleistocene ancestors entered new, challenging social and economic environments.
Keywords Biological markets  Cooperation  Evolution of morality  Social evolution  Reciprocation crisis
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DOI 10.1093/bjps/axz007
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A Natural History of Human Morality.Michael Tomasello (ed.) - 2016 - Harvard University Press.
Evolution and the Levels of Selection.Samir Okasha - 2009 - Critica 41 (123):162-170.

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