Cheating Monkeys and Citizen Bees: The Nature of Cooperation in Animals and Humans

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9780674001671: Cheating Monkeys and Citizen Bees: The Nature of Cooperation in Animals and Humans
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Here biologist Lee Dugatkin outlines four paths to cooperation shared by humans and other animals: family dynamics, reciprocal transactions (or "tit for tat"), so-called selfish teamwork, and group altruism. He draws on a wealth of examples—from babysitting among mongooses and food sharing among vampire bats to cooperation in Hutterite communities and on kibbutzim—o show not only that cooperation exists throughout the animal kingdom, but how an understanding of the natural history of altruism might foster our own best instincts toward our fellow humans.

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Review:

"Man," Aristotle observes in his treatise The Politics, "is by nature a social creature." In this lively book of popular science, Lee Dugatkin takes a close look at the inescapable fact that humans are indeed social creatures whose instinct, it seems, is to aid one another in times of need. He examines the ways in which thinkers of various stripes have considered this subject. Economists, for instance, conceive of a "rational man" who acts cooperatively when the benefits of doing so outweigh the costs; theologians depict humans as being inherently good and thus inclined to kindness; some biologists take the matter of human cooperation as being a more sophisticated expression of cooperation in animal societies (to which Dugatkin rejoins, "animals show us a stripped-down version of what behavior in a given circumstance would look like without our moral will and freedom"). In the face of such views, Dugatkin proposes no dogma of his own. Instead, he takes up one interesting question after another (Do sparrows help one another locate food out of self-interest? What prompts a soldier to fall on a grenade to save nearby comrades? Is blood thicker than water?), expertly leading his readers through contending scientific and philosophical theories while seeking the answers. --Gregory McNamee

About the Author:

Lee Dugatkin is Professor of Biology, University of Louisville, and the author of the award-winning Cooperation among Animals.

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9780684843414: CHEATING MONKEYS AND CITIZEN BEES : The NATURE of COOPERATION in ANIMALS and HUMANS

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ISBN 10:  0684843412 ISBN 13:  9780684843414
Publisher: Free Press, 1999
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