WP 2011-07 What Can Economics Contribute to the Study of Human Evolution?

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Published in 2012 in Biology & Philosophy, Volume 27, Issue 2.

ABSTRACT. The revised edition of Paul Seabright’s The Company of Strangers is critically reviewed. Seabright aims to help non‐economists participating in the cross‐disciplinary study of the evolution of human sociality appreciate the potential value that can be added by economists. Though the book includes nicely constructed and vivid essays on a range of economic topics, in its main ambition it largely falls short. The most serious problem is endorsement of the so‐called strong reciprocity hypothesis that has been promoted by several prominent economists, but does not pass muster with biologists.