From individual minds to social ones. Cooperation and the structure of animal and human societies.

Abstract

The aim of this paper is to highlight the role of the social factors among the different forces which influence natural selection. To do this, we’ll start analyzing an example of highly complex society, like that of the baboons, in order to show that the building-up of a society depends on extremely flexible and continually negotiated social relationships, rather than on features that are genetically determined. However, in our view, when we shift from animal societies to the human ones, we have to recognize the central role of language. In fact, even if the role of social influence appears to be relevant in other animal species, in humans it was language that provided the way to make this social influence much more important, to redefine the roles, to reverse the genetic dominances even more, and to make human cooperation something unique.


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