How to Evolve Cooperation

  • Christine Taylor
  • Martin A. Nowak
Part of the Springer Series in Game Theory book series (SSGT)


Cooperation is needed for evolution to construct new levels of organization. The emergence of genomes, cells, multi-cellular organisms, social insects, and human society are all based on cooperation. Cooperation means that selfish replicators forgo some of their reproductive potential to help one another. But natural selection implies competition between individuals and therefore opposes cooperation unless a specific mechanism is at work. Five mechanisms for the evolution of cooperation are discussed: kin selection, direct reciprocity, indirect reciprocity, network reciprocity, and group selection. I will argue that cooperation is essential for evolvability.


Group Selection Evolutionary Game Payoff Matrix Evolutionarily Stable Strategy Fixation Probability 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



Support from the John Templeton foundation and the NSF/NIH joint program in mathematical biology (NIH grant R01GM078986) is gratefully acknowledged. The Program for Evolutionary Dynamics at Harvard University is sponsored by Jeffrey Epstein.


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© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Program for Evolutionary Dynamics Department of Organismic and Evolutionary Biology, Department of MathematicsHarvard UniversityCambridgeUSA

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