Feb 1 • 47M

WHY WE COOPERATE

A Conversation with Nichola Raihani

Tobi Lawson
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Human cooperation has been one of the most common human experiences, yet one of the most contentiously debated. For some, human cooperation is a unique moral achievement given our multitude of interests and differences. Others proclaim that we are ‘‘selfish’’ individual utility-maximizers - and cooperation is only achieved via separate institutional arrangements. Researchers on human behaviour and biology are also divided on whether our instincts for cooperative behaviour originated from individuals or groups. Hence, it was refreshing to read an account of human cooperation that does not pretend to settle these debates but transcends them by placing cooperation in the mix of other natural human instincts. In her book, The Social Instinct, Nichola Raihani - a professor of Evolution and Behaviour at University College London - traces the trajectory of cooperation from the microcosm of cellular organization to the complexity of human societies. In this conversation, I explored most parts of her book, and what motivated her to write it now.