Christopher X J. Jensen
Associate Professor, Pratt Institute

Punishment, properly rewarded, can promote cooperation without corruption

Posted 20 Sep 2012 / 0

Public Library of Science ONEEvolving Righteousness in a Corrupt World

In the race to build the next over-simplified model of cooperative dynamics, it will be interesting to see how the media runs with this one. Is this a “scientists discover the evolutionary rationale for honorable police” moment? I think it is important to take the long view on this sort of research, which is very important because it advances our understanding of various mechanisms that promote cooperation (and reinforces the emerging idea that there are many ways that cooperation can be stable). However, the tendency of both scientists performing this research and the journalists who write about them to suggest that we are ready to apply these theoretical findings to real biological systems is disingenuous. It will be interesting to see how this work gets portrayed.

The word “righteousness” is an interesting choice. I wonder if this loaded terminology is going to get us into the cultural weeds. Perhaps a more descriptive and less loaded term would have been less flashy and therefore less publishable?

A Minor Post, Altruism, Articles, Cooperation, Ethics, Evolution, Evolutionary Modeling, Game Theory, Punishment, Social Networks, System Stability

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