October 01, 2008

"Let there be one ruler, one king"

Related to the Homeric verse of the title.

Proceedings of the Royal Society B doi: 10.1098/rspb.2008.1082

Constraining free riding in public goods games: designated solitary punishers can sustain human cooperation

Rick O'Gorman et al.

Abstract

Much of human cooperation remains an evolutionary riddle. Unlike other animals, people frequently cooperate with non-relatives in large groups. Evolutionary models of large-scale cooperation require not just incentives for cooperation, but also a credible disincentive for free riding. Various theoretical solutions have been proposed and experimentally explored, including reputation monitoring and diffuse punishment. Here, we empirically examine an alternative theoretical proposal: responsibility for punishment can be borne by one specific individual. This experiment shows that allowing a single individual to punish increases cooperation to the same level as allowing each group member to punish and results in greater group profits. These results suggest a potential key function of leadership in human groups and provides further evidence supporting that humans will readily and knowingly behave altruistically.

Link

4 comments:

subscriber3 said...

"Much of human cooperation remains an evolutionary riddle. Unlike other animals, people frequently cooperate with non relatives in large groups".

it has been suggested that this is not evolutionary, but instead associated with the development of agriculture, and perhaps due to the effect of psychoactive peptides formed during the digestion of grains and milk.

there are copies of a peer-reviewed paper outlining this idea, taken from the author's website, in several places on the web, including this one:
The origins of agriculture -
a biological perspective and a new hypothesis


this paper was previously available on the journal website, but that is currently under construction: http://www.acnem.org/

McG said...

In my life experience the biggest example was Military service. There is only one CinC and all authority derives from him. If I were to guess I would say that the urge to protect against invaders and the rule by the strongest to resist invasion is a primary instinct and was a collective effort.Danger makes strange bedfellows. This is like the question which came first some form of God or some form of alcohol??? Almost all civilizations have one or both. I'm not sure I agree with Agriculture example? In American Indian societies that work was relegated to women, slaves and children.

dienekesp said...

In my life experience the biggest example was Military service. There is only one CinC and all authority derives from him.

The military is definitely a good example of an organization where the leader (at any level of the hierarchy) commands his subordinates who must follow orders. Of course, the problem is when the commanding officer is unfair or incompetent. In the military there is always the possibility of following the hierarchy and petitioning his superiors, but ultimately there is an ultimate authority who has the final say.

The problem with kings is that they can't be replaced easily if they're bad. They also tend to attract flatterers around them, who might yield the real power.

There may be no superior state than one led by an enlightened monarch. Finding such an individual is the trick, however.

McG said...

Certainly, an enlightened monarchy is an efficient form of gov't.

You are probably a student of the Greek classics? How do we implement the "Ideal state"? The internet as it evolves will certainly enable, one man, one vote on any issue, including selecting the leader. Do you think the Internet will evolve us toward the concepts in "the republic"? Information is now at everyones fingertips that has even the merest computer capability. This combination of information availability and internet interconnectedness presents a huge opportunity for good? I don't think we will ever have another "Kristallnacht". Russia sometimes scares me though. Look at Chechnya. At the core though, unfortunately, religious fanaticism, may become/is our biggest enemy.