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19 / 07 / 2004
Arcadi Navarro (Pompeu Fabra University): “Humans provide the most extraordinary cases of cooperation”

The morning session of “The Social Brain. The Biology of Conflicts and Cooperation" dealt with human nature and human behavior in relation to cooperation.

Member of the evolutionary unit at Pompeu Fabra University in Barcelona, Arcadi Navarro, spoke about selfishness and cooperation in human today. Navarro said, “human beings provide the most extraordinary cases of cooperation." According to Navarro, “sometimes the best way to participate is to cooperate”.

Navarro defined various basic models of cooperation. He described the model of group selection, which bases cooperation on the species' good, the parental model, based on familial solidarity and of reciprocal altruism. This model of cooperation is "that which seeks out mutual benefit, that which cooperates with those who cooperate," said Navarro. Furthermore, Navarro referred to the model of indirect altruism, "carried out by those who treat strangers well out of the goodness of their heart. Navarro explained how these models work in society.

In terms of social learning, Arcadi Navarro said that “there are certain rules for dealing with strangers, so society tends to meet out altruistic punishments and fair distribution, classifying up to what point we are caring and fair." He said that these punishments “might be a mistake as they might be bad for society, an example would be ablation.”

According to Navarro it is important “that cooperation cannot be provided for selfish individuals." Furthermore, Navarro talked about humans' tendency to label other people. However, Navarro thinks that, “we are beginning to understand what cooperation is."