Biology & Philosophy

, Volume 30, Issue 3, pp 405–421

Evolution and the classification of social behavior


DOI: 10.1007/s10539-015-9486-y

Cite this article as:
Forber, P. & Smead, R. Biol Philos (2015) 30: 405. doi:10.1007/s10539-015-9486-y


Recent studies in the evolution of cooperation have shifted focus from altruistic to mutualistic cooperation. This change in focus is purported to reveal new explanations for the evolution of prosocial behavior. We argue that the common classification scheme for social behavior used to distinguish between altruistic and mutualistic cooperation is flawed because it fails to take into account dynamically relevant game-theoretic features. This leads some arguments about the evolution of cooperation to conflate dynamical scenarios that differ regarding the basic conditions on the emergence and maintenance of cooperation. We use the tools of evolutionary game theory to increase the resolution of the classification scheme and analyze what evolutionary inferences classifying social behavior can license.


Evolution Cooperation Hamilton’s rule Social behavior Evolutionary game theory 

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PhilosophyTufts UniversityMedfordUSA
  2. 2.Department of Philosophy and ReligionNortheastern UniversityBostonUSA

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