Cooperation and Its Evolution

From Life and Mind: Philosophical Issues in Biology and Psychology

Cooperation and Its Evolution

Edited by Kim Sterelny, Richard Joyce, Brett Calcott and Ben Fraser

Essays from a range of disciplinary perspectives show the central role that cooperation plays in structuring our world.

Bradford Books





Essays from a range of disciplinary perspectives show the central role that cooperation plays in structuring our world.

This collection reports on the latest research on an increasingly pivotal issue for evolutionary biology: cooperation. The chapters are written from a variety of disciplinary perspectives and utilize research tools that range from empirical survey to conceptual modeling, reflecting the rich diversity of work in the field. They explore a wide taxonomic range, concentrating on bacteria, social insects, and, especially, humans.

Part I ("Agents and Environments") investigates the connections of social cooperation in social organizations to the conditions that make cooperation profitable and stable, focusing on the interactions of agent, population, and environment. Part II ("Agents and Mechanisms") focuses on how proximate mechanisms emerge and operate in the evolutionary process and how they shape evolutionary trajectories. Throughout the book, certain themes emerge that demonstrate the ubiquity of questions regarding cooperation in evolutionary biology: the generation and division of the profits of cooperation; transitions in individuality; levels of selection, from gene to organism; and the "human cooperation explosion" that makes our own social behavior particularly puzzling from an evolutionary perspective.

Bradford Books imprint


$70.00 X ISBN: 9780262018531 592 pp. | 7 in x 9 in 11 figures


Kim Sterelny

Kim Sterelny is Professor of Philosophy at the Australian National University. He is the coauthor of Language and Reality: An Introduction to the Philosophy of Language and the author of The Evolved Apprentice: How Evolution Made Humans Unique (both published by the MIT Press) and other books.

Richard Joyce

Richard Joyce is Professor of Philosophy at Victoria University of Wellington and author of The Evolution of Morality (MIT Press, 2006) and The Myth of Morality (Cambridge University Press, 2001).

Brett Calcott

Brett Calcott is a Postdoctoral Researcher at the ASU/SFI Center for Complex Biosocial Systems in the School of Life Sciences at Arizona State University and coeditor (with Kim Sterelny) of The Major Transitions in Evolution Revisited (MIT Press, 2011).

Ben Fraser

Ben Fraser is a Postdoctoral Research Fellow in the Philosophy Program at Australian National University.


  • The most striking feature of Cooperation and its Evolution is the sheer diversity of perspectives, of questions, and of conceivable replies it contains...The book is successful in providing an accurate map of the new questions raised above and beyond traditional problems and approaches.

    Acta Bioetheoretica

  • Sterelny, et al., present a fascinating collection of essays on cooperation and its evolution the definitely makes an important contribution to the literature. Anybody interested in cooperation and its evolution ought to read it.

    British Journal for the Philosophy of Science

  • This rich, diverse collection is essential reading for anyone working on cooperation.