Biology & Philosophy

, Volume 27, Issue 1, pp 137–147

Collaboration and human social evolution: review of Michael Tomasello’s why we cooperate (MIT Press, 2009)

Review Essay


Michael Tomasello’s new book Why We Cooperate explores the ontogeny and evolution of human altruism and human cooperation, paying particular attention to how such behaviors allow humans to create social institutions.


Altruism Cooperation Stag hunt game Social institutions Culture and cognition 


  1. Boesch C (2001) Chimpanzee hunters: chaos or cooperation in the forest. In: Dugatkin LA (ed) Model systems in behavioral ecology: integrating conceptual, theoretical, and empirical approaches. Princeton University Press, Princeton and OxfordGoogle Scholar
  2. Boesch C (2005) Joint cooperation among wild chimpanzees: taking natural observations seriously. Peer Commentary to Tomasello et al. (2005)Google Scholar
  3. Bratman M (1992) Shared cooperative activity. Phil Rev 101(2):327–341CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Brownell C, Ramani G, Zerwas S (2006) Becoming a social partner with peers: cooperation and social understanding in 1- and 2-year-olds. Child Dev 77(4):803–821Google Scholar
  5. Calcott B (2008) The other cooperation problem: generating benefit. Biol Philos 23:179–203CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Eckerman C, Whitehead H (1999) How toddler peers generate coordinated action: a cross-cultural exploration. Early Educ Dev 10(3):241–266CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Kerr B, Godfrey-Smith P, Feldman M (2004) What is altruism? Trends Ecol Evol 19(3):135–140CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Liszkowski U, Carpenter M, Striano T, Tomasello M (2006) Twelve- and 18-month-olds point to provide information for others. J Cogn Dev 7:173–187CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Melis A, Hare B, Tomasello M (2006) Chimpanzees recruit the best collaborators. Science 31:1297–1300CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Searle J (1995) The construction of social reality. Free Press, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  11. Skyrms B (2004) The stag hunt and the evolution of social structure. Cambridge University Press, CambridgeGoogle Scholar
  12. Sober E, Wilson DS (1998) Unto others: the evolution and psychology of unselfish behavior. Harvard University Press, CambridgeGoogle Scholar
  13. Sterelny K (2003) Though in a hostile world: the evolution of human cognition. Blackwell, OxfordGoogle Scholar
  14. Sterelny K (2007) Social intelligence, human intelligence, and niche construction. Phil Trans R Soc Series B 362:719–730CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Sterelny K (forthcoming) The fate of the third chimpanzeeGoogle Scholar
  16. Tomasello M (1999) The cultural origins of human cognition. Harvard University Press, CambridgeGoogle Scholar
  17. Tomasello M (2004) What kind of evidence could refute the UG hypothesis? Commentary on Wunderlich. Stud Lang 28(3):642–645CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Tomasello M (2009) Why we cooperate. MIT Press, CambridgeGoogle Scholar
  19. Tomasello M, Carpenter M, Call J, Behne T, Moll H (2005) Understanding and sharing intentions: the origins of cultural cognition. Behav Brain Sci 28:675–691Google Scholar
  20. Warneken F, Tomasello M (2007) Helping and cooperation at 14 months of age. Infancy 11(3):271–294CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Warneken F, Tomasello M (2009) Varieties of altruism in children and chimpanzees. Trends Cogn Sci 13(9):397–482CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Warneken F, Chen F, Tomasello M (2006) Cooperative activities in young children and chimpanzees. Child Dev 77(3):640–663CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Fresh Pond Research InstituteCambridgeUSA

Personalised recommendations