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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2008 May 13;105(19):6982-6. doi: 10.1073/pnas.0712173105. Epub 2008 Apr 30.

Selfishness as second-order altruism.

Author information

1
Department of Biological Sciences, Binghamton University, Binghamton, NY 13902-6000, USA. oeldakar@gmail.com

Abstract

Selfishness is seldom considered a group-beneficial strategy. In the typical evolutionary formulation, altruism benefits the group, selfishness undermines altruism, and the purpose of the model is to identify mechanisms, such as kinship or reciprocity, that enable altruism to evolve. Recent models have explored punishment as an important mechanism favoring the evolution of altruism, but punishment can be costly to the punisher, making it a form of second-order altruism. This model identifies a strategy called "selfish punisher" that involves behaving selfishly in first-order interactions and altruistically in second-order interactions by punishing other selfish individuals. Selfish punishers cause selfishness to be a self-limiting strategy, enabling altruists to coexist in a stable equilibrium. This polymorphism can be regarded as a division of labor, or mutualism, in which the benefits obtained by first-order selfishness help to "pay" for second-order altruism.

PMID:
18448681
PMCID:
PMC2383986
DOI:
10.1073/pnas.0712173105
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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