2017 Karlovitz Lecture
Presented by the GT Honors Program and the College of Sciences
Is Human Cooperation an Anomaly?
Lessons from Other Animals
In the 1970s and 80s, humans were as selfish and unaltruistic as the rest of the animal kingdom. Nature was dog-eat-dog. Since the turn of the millennium, however, there has been an attempt to set humans apart. We were declared the only true altruists, and the only genuinely cooperative species. We did not just exhibit regular reciprocity, but strong reciprocity. Behavioral economists began to call human cooperation a “huge anomaly” in the natural world. We were the only ones to care about the welfare of others, and the only ones with joint intentionality. But if all of this were true, how come our best theories about the evolution of cooperation and altruism stem from the study of animal behavior? Every biologist knows that cooperation is ubiquitous. I will argue that the whole movement to elevate human cooperation above the rest is built on sand. We find human-animal continuity in every domain, from empathy, cooperation, partner choice, and the role of oxytocin to reciprocal exchange and the sense of fairness. My review will concern manifestations of these phenomena in anthropoid apes, elephants, rodents and other mammals.
Dr. Frans B. M. de Waal is a Dutch/American biologist and primatologist known for his work on the behavior and social cognition of primates. His scientific work has been published in journals such as Science, Nature, Scientific American, and outlets specialized in animal behavior. His latest book is Are We Smart Enough to Know How Smart Animals Are?
Frans de Waal
Living Links, Yerkes National Primate Research Center
Psychology Department, Emory University, Atlanta, GA
Thursday, February 16, 6 pm
Student Center Theater, Georgia Tech
350 Ferst St., NW
Atlanta, GA 30332
Free and open to the public
No tickets or reservations required
Parking $5, Area 2 just west of venue
Past Karlovitz Lectures
Univ. of Mass. Medical School
Santa Fe Institute and Los Alamos National Laboratory
Please Pay Attention Now: It Could Change Your Brain
Growth, Innovation, and the Accelerating Pace of Life From Cells and Ecosystems to Cities and Economies Are They Sustainable?
Florida International University
Selfish Altruism: Making the World a Better Place for All the Wrong Reasons
Lust, Romance, Attachment: The Drive to Love and Who We Choose
The University of Vermont
Dr. Erich Jarvis
Dr. Nalini Nadkarni