Genetic and Cultural Evolution of Cooperation

From Dahlem Workshop Reports

Genetic and Cultural Evolution of Cooperation

Edited by Peter Hammerstein

The latest interdisciplinary research on the evolutionary models of cooperation.





The latest interdisciplinary research on the evolutionary models of cooperation.

Current thinking in evolutionary biology holds that competition among individuals is the key to understanding natural selection. When competition exists, it is obvious that conflict arises; the emergence of cooperation, however, is less straightforward and calls for in-depth analysis. Much research is now focused on defining and expanding the evolutionary models of cooperation. Understanding the mechanisms of cooperation has relevance for fields other than biology. Anthropology, economics, mathematics, political science, primatology, and psychology are adopting the evolutionary approach and developing analogies based on it. Similarly, biologists use elements of economic game theory and analyze cooperation in "evolutionary games." Despite this, exchanges between researchers in these different disciplines have been limited. Seeking to fill this gap, the 90th Dahlem Workshop was convened. This book, which grew out of that meeting, addresses such topics as emotions in human cooperation, reciprocity, biological markets, cooperation and conflict in multicellularity, genomic and intercellular cooperation, the origins of human cooperation, and the cultural evolution of cooperation; the emphasis is on open questions and future research areas. The book makes a significant contribution to a growing process of interdisciplinary cross-fertilization on this issue.


Out of Print ISBN: 9780262083263 499 pp. | 6 in x 9 in 34 illus.


Peter Hammerstein

Peter Hammerstein is Professor in Organismic Evolution at the Institute for Theoretical Biology at Humboldt University, Berlin and an external member of the interdisciplinary Santa Fe Institute.


  • This timely monograph will prove essential reading - not only as a state-of-the-art overview, but also as an informed agenda for future research.

    Mike Mesterton-Gibbons

    American Journal of Human Biology


  • A revolution is happening in the borderland between cellular evolution and the evolution of whole organisms and cooperating entities in a community. The authors of the papers in this book are addressing this revolution in a cogent and clear manner. There is much to explain about the cooperative or not-so-cooperative behavior of homo sapiens, and the work in this volume goes a long way toward providing a clear explanation.

    Elinor Ostrom

    Arthur F. Bentley Professor of Political Science, Indiana University

  • The book offers a surprising wealth of ideas on the biological and cultural evolution of cooperation. It presents exciting and thought-provoking reading material for everybody interested in the subject matter.

    Reinhard Selten

    Nobel Laureate in Economic Sciences in 1994 and Professor Emeritus of Economics, University of Bonn