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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.


Problems with the Two-Faced strategy
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Fig4: Problems with the Two-Faced strategy

Mentions: The difficulties for cooperative populations are not entirely due to defecting individuals. Cooperative individuals who disrupt the image tracking signals can destabilize indirect reciprocity. For instance, one strategy that is particularly troublesome relative to the strategies in our benchmark case is the “Two-Faced” strategy which always cooperates, but always signals “1” (c,c,1,1). In a population of discriminators of type (c,d,0,1), a player using the Two-Faced strategy undermines the reputation of others without ever harming her own image. This allows the Two-Faced strategy to invade by causing the discriminators to begin defecting on each other and thereby paving the way for defectors to take over. Figure 4 shows the evolutionary dynamics on the face of the simplex which has only Two-Faced cooperators (c,c,1,1), signaling discriminators (c,d,0,1) and signaling defectors (d,d,0,1). Simulations involving only these three strategies result in uncooperative populations every time. This reveals that not only does the presence of communication errors undermine cooperation, as shown by the perception errors examined by Panchanathan and Boyd (2003), but that the situation is much worse: an error-causing strategy can invade a population of error-free discriminators. Fig. 4


Indirect reciprocity and the evolution of "moral signals"

Smead R - Biol Philos (2009)

Problems with the Two-Faced strategy
© Copyright Policy
Related In: Results  -  Collection

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

Fig4: Problems with the Two-Faced strategy
Mentions: The difficulties for cooperative populations are not entirely due to defecting individuals. Cooperative individuals who disrupt the image tracking signals can destabilize indirect reciprocity. For instance, one strategy that is particularly troublesome relative to the strategies in our benchmark case is the “Two-Faced” strategy which always cooperates, but always signals “1” (c,c,1,1). In a population of discriminators of type (c,d,0,1), a player using the Two-Faced strategy undermines the reputation of others without ever harming her own image. This allows the Two-Faced strategy to invade by causing the discriminators to begin defecting on each other and thereby paving the way for defectors to take over. Figure 4 shows the evolutionary dynamics on the face of the simplex which has only Two-Faced cooperators (c,c,1,1), signaling discriminators (c,d,0,1) and signaling defectors (d,d,0,1). Simulations involving only these three strategies result in uncooperative populations every time. This reveals that not only does the presence of communication errors undermine cooperation, as shown by the perception errors examined by Panchanathan and Boyd (2003), but that the situation is much worse: an error-causing strategy can invade a population of error-free discriminators. Fig. 4

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.