Santa Fe Institute

Super cooperators: Why we need each other to succeed

April 29, 2011 2:21 p.m.

In a book review in Science, SFI Faculty Chair David Krakauer reviews SuperCooperators (Simon & Schuster's Free Press, 2011), a new book by Martin Nowak and Roger Highfield about recent research of the evolutionary implications of altruism in human behavior.

In SuperCooperators, mathematical biologist Nowak and New Scientist editor Highfield "present for nonspecialists recent progress in understanding how cooperation evolves from the competitive interactions inherent in Darwinian dynamics," writes Krakauer. "They argue that we now know enough about the mathematics of adaptation to conceive of cooperation as a fundamental evolutionary principle and not merely as a surprising feature of biology in some way at odds with evolutionary processes.

"Nowak’s essential (and rather simple) claim is that all forms of cooperation can be understood in terms of individual-level selection operating in hierarchically structured populations. The source of structure can be kinship, spatial constraints on mobility, or selection."

Read the review (April 29, 2011, subscription required)

Read Simon & Schuster's listing for SuperCooperators

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