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Indirect reciprocity and the evolution of "moral signals"

Smead R - Biol Philos (2009)

Bottom Line: Additionally, scholars have suggested that the benefits of indirect reciprocity may have been important for the evolution of language and that social signals may have coevolved with large-scale cooperation.Using the tools of evolutionary game theory, we present a model that incorporates primitive "moral signaling" into a simple setting of indirect reciprocity.This model reveals some potential difficulties for the evolution of "moral signals." We find that it is possible for "moral signals" to evolve alongside indirect reciprocity, but without some external pressure aiding the evolution of a signaling system, such a coevolution is unlikely.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: Department of Logic and Philosophy of Science, School of Social Sciences, University of California, Irvine, 3151 Social Science Plaza A, Irvine, CA 92697 USA.

ABSTRACT
Signals regarding the behavior of others are an essential element of human moral systems and there are important evolutionary connections between language and large-scale cooperation. In particular, social communication may be required for the reputation tracking needed to stabilize indirect reciprocity. Additionally, scholars have suggested that the benefits of indirect reciprocity may have been important for the evolution of language and that social signals may have coevolved with large-scale cooperation. This paper investigates the possibility of such a coevolution. Using the tools of evolutionary game theory, we present a model that incorporates primitive "moral signaling" into a simple setting of indirect reciprocity. This model reveals some potential difficulties for the evolution of "moral signals." We find that it is possible for "moral signals" to evolve alongside indirect reciprocity, but without some external pressure aiding the evolution of a signaling system, such a coevolution is unlikely.

No MeSH data available.


The dynamics of indirect reciprocity
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Fig1: The dynamics of indirect reciprocity

Mentions: A fitness value is assigned to each strategy based on the accumulated payoffs of the interactions. Differences in fitness cause the proportion of each strategy in the population to increase or decrease according to the replicator dynamics (Taylor and Jonker 1978). These dynamics can be interpreted in either a biological context (as differential reproduction) or in a cultural context (as differential imitation or learning of strategies). On this model, cooperative states can evolve provided the initial proportion of discriminators is high enough to drive the defectors to extinction. The resulting cooperative populations are neutrally stable mixes of discriminators and unconditional cooperators. Since these strategies are wholly cooperative in the absence of defectors, each receives an identical payoff in these states. Although this result does not necessitate cooperation, it does show that image scoring strategies can stabilize it. Figure 1 provides a basic picture of the dynamics of indirect reciprocity in the simple image scoring model.7 This dynamical picture closely resembles the situation with the evolution of direct reciprocity.Fig. 1


Indirect reciprocity and the evolution of "moral signals"

Smead R - Biol Philos (2009)

The dynamics of indirect reciprocity
© Copyright Policy
Related In: Results  -  Collection

Show All Figures
getmorefigures.php?uid=PMC2837239&req=5

Fig1: The dynamics of indirect reciprocity
Mentions: A fitness value is assigned to each strategy based on the accumulated payoffs of the interactions. Differences in fitness cause the proportion of each strategy in the population to increase or decrease according to the replicator dynamics (Taylor and Jonker 1978). These dynamics can be interpreted in either a biological context (as differential reproduction) or in a cultural context (as differential imitation or learning of strategies). On this model, cooperative states can evolve provided the initial proportion of discriminators is high enough to drive the defectors to extinction. The resulting cooperative populations are neutrally stable mixes of discriminators and unconditional cooperators. Since these strategies are wholly cooperative in the absence of defectors, each receives an identical payoff in these states. Although this result does not necessitate cooperation, it does show that image scoring strategies can stabilize it. Figure 1 provides a basic picture of the dynamics of indirect reciprocity in the simple image scoring model.7 This dynamical picture closely resembles the situation with the evolution of direct reciprocity.Fig. 1

Bottom Line: Additionally, scholars have suggested that the benefits of indirect reciprocity may have been important for the evolution of language and that social signals may have coevolved with large-scale cooperation.Using the tools of evolutionary game theory, we present a model that incorporates primitive "moral signaling" into a simple setting of indirect reciprocity.This model reveals some potential difficulties for the evolution of "moral signals." We find that it is possible for "moral signals" to evolve alongside indirect reciprocity, but without some external pressure aiding the evolution of a signaling system, such a coevolution is unlikely.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: Department of Logic and Philosophy of Science, School of Social Sciences, University of California, Irvine, 3151 Social Science Plaza A, Irvine, CA 92697 USA.

ABSTRACT
Signals regarding the behavior of others are an essential element of human moral systems and there are important evolutionary connections between language and large-scale cooperation. In particular, social communication may be required for the reputation tracking needed to stabilize indirect reciprocity. Additionally, scholars have suggested that the benefits of indirect reciprocity may have been important for the evolution of language and that social signals may have coevolved with large-scale cooperation. This paper investigates the possibility of such a coevolution. Using the tools of evolutionary game theory, we present a model that incorporates primitive "moral signaling" into a simple setting of indirect reciprocity. This model reveals some potential difficulties for the evolution of "moral signals." We find that it is possible for "moral signals" to evolve alongside indirect reciprocity, but without some external pressure aiding the evolution of a signaling system, such a coevolution is unlikely.

No MeSH data available.