3 episodes

Humans are remarkably cooperative animals. We frequently engage in joint projects for the common benefit on a scale extending beyond the family to include total strangers. We do this even when contributions to the project are costly and yield little private benefit. Examples are upholding social norms even when a transgression would not be noticed, warfare, and actions to preserve the natural environment.

Lecture 1: A Cooperative Species (or are we just afraid someone may be looking?)
Since Darwin, the evolutionary origin of these and other examples of altruistic cooperation has puzzled biologists and economists where notions of 'selfish genes' and amoral Homo economicus hold sway. Drawing on archaeological, genetic, climatic, and other information about the conditions under which our distant ancestors lived, Bowles will show why standard explanations of human cooperation are inadequate.

Lecture 2: Altruism, Parochialism, and War: Rambo Meets Mother Teresa
Bowles uses computer simulations to generate artificial histories of humanity over tens of thousands of years, tracing alternative trajectories that could explain how we got to be both nasty and nice. The disquieting conclusion will be that war and hostility toward outsiders may have been midwives of our more admirable moral predisposition.

Lecture 3: Machiavelli's Mistake: Why Policies Designed for 'Wicked Men' Fail
Taking account of our ethical dispositions and the conditions necessary to both enhance and empower cooperative motivations is essential if we are to face the challenges of environmental sustainability, control of epidemic disease, the governance of the information-based economy, and political violence.

These lectures were given September 16 - 18, 2008.

Samuel Bowles is Professor, Santa Fe Institute and University of Siena.

NOTE: Please excuse the production quality of some of our older videos. They were transferred from our video tape archive.

A Cooperative Species Santa Fe Institute

    • Natural Sciences

Humans are remarkably cooperative animals. We frequently engage in joint projects for the common benefit on a scale extending beyond the family to include total strangers. We do this even when contributions to the project are costly and yield little private benefit. Examples are upholding social norms even when a transgression would not be noticed, warfare, and actions to preserve the natural environment.

Lecture 1: A Cooperative Species (or are we just afraid someone may be looking?)
Since Darwin, the evolutionary origin of these and other examples of altruistic cooperation has puzzled biologists and economists where notions of 'selfish genes' and amoral Homo economicus hold sway. Drawing on archaeological, genetic, climatic, and other information about the conditions under which our distant ancestors lived, Bowles will show why standard explanations of human cooperation are inadequate.

Lecture 2: Altruism, Parochialism, and War: Rambo Meets Mother Teresa
Bowles uses computer simulations to generate artificial histories of humanity over tens of thousands of years, tracing alternative trajectories that could explain how we got to be both nasty and nice. The disquieting conclusion will be that war and hostility toward outsiders may have been midwives of our more admirable moral predisposition.

Lecture 3: Machiavelli's Mistake: Why Policies Designed for 'Wicked Men' Fail
Taking account of our ethical dispositions and the conditions necessary to both enhance and empower cooperative motivations is essential if we are to face the challenges of environmental sustainability, control of epidemic disease, the governance of the information-based economy, and political violence.

These lectures were given September 16 - 18, 2008.

Samuel Bowles is Professor, Santa Fe Institute and University of Siena.

NOTE: Please excuse the production quality of some of our older videos. They were transferred from our video tape archive.

    Lecture I: A Cooperative Species (or are we just afraid someone may be looking?)

    Lecture I: A Cooperative Species (or are we just afraid someone may be looking?)

    Lecture II: Altruism, Parochialism, and War: Rambo Meets Mother Teresa

    Lecture II: Altruism, Parochialism, and War: Rambo Meets Mother Teresa

    Lecture III: Machiavelli's Mistake: Why Policies Designed for Wicked Men Fail

    Lecture III: Machiavelli's Mistake: Why Policies Designed for Wicked Men Fail

Top Podcasts In Natural Sciences

Listeners Also Subscribed To

More by Santa Fe Institute