Origins of Altruism and Cooperation

Volume 36 of the series Developments in Primatology: Progress and Prospects pp 249-270


Born to Live: Challenging Killer Myths

  • R. Brian FergusonAffiliated withDepartment of Sociology and Anthropology, Rutgers University Email author 

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This chapter is an anomaly in this volume. It is about cooperation among primates, but cooperation for deadly violence against others of the same species. It is about warfare by chimpanzees and by humans. Whether chimpanzees make war depends on your definition. Mine has always been elementary: organized, potentially lethal violence against members of another group. Using this definition, there is no question that chimpanzees have the capability to make war and have done so on occasion. The patrols that often precede attacks, and the attacks themselves, display a high degree of intelligent cooperation. Male coalitional aggression is the label that has been aptly applied to chimpanzees and humans too.