The Origins of Virtue: Human Instincts and the Evolution of Cooperation

The Origins of Virtue: Human Instincts and the Evolution of Cooperation

by Matt Ridley


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If, as Darwin suggests, evolution relentlessly encourages the survival of the fittest, why are humans compelled to live in cooperative, complex societies? In this fascinating examination of the roots of human trust and virtue, a zoologist and former American editor of the Economist reveals the results of recent studies that suggest that self-interest and mutual aid are not at all incompatible. In fact, he points out, our cooperative instincts may have evolved as part of mankind's natural selfish behavior—by exchanging favors we can benefit ourselves as well as others.Brilliantly orchestrating the newest findings of geneticists, psychologists, and anthropologists, The Origins of Virtue re-examines the everyday assumptions upon which we base our actions towards others, whether in our roles as parents, siblings, or trade partners. With the wit and brilliance of The Red Queen, his acclaimed study of human and animal sexuality, Matt Ridley shows us how breakthroughs in computer programming, microbiology, and economics have given us a new perspective on how and why we relate to each other.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780140264456
Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date: 04/28/1998
Pages: 304
Sales rank: 514,418
Product dimensions: 5.09(w) x 7.74(h) x 0.70(d)
Age Range: 18 Years

About the Author

Matt Ridley has worked as a science editor, Washington correspondent, and American editor for the Economist. A research fellow of the Institute for Economic Affairs and a Trustee of the International Centre for Life, he lives in Northumberland, England.

Table of Contents

The Origins of Virtue Acknowledgments
Chapter One: The Society of Genes
Chapter Two: The Division of Labour
Chapter Three: The Prisoner's Dilemma
Chapter Four: Telling Hawks from Doves
Chapter Five: Duty and the Feast
Chapter Six: Public Goods and Private Gifts
Chapter Seven: Theories of Moral Sentiments
Chapter Eight: The Tribal Primates
Chapter Nine: The Source of War
Chapter Ten: The Gains from Trade
Chapter Eleven: Ecology as Religion
Chapter Twelve: The Power of Property
Chapter Thirteen: Trust
Sources and Notes

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The Origins of Virtue: Human Instincts and the Evolution of Cooperation 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 4 reviews.
Devil_llama on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This was my first introduction to the author, and it set a pattern that hasn't been relieved by further encounters. The author lacks integrity, willing to indulge in quote-mining to pretend that those who are on the other side of a question actually support his point of view, and he never misses an opportunity to make unsupported, unpleasant sexist comments. He plainly believes the evidence indicates irrefutably that women are inferior and should stay home and work as breeding machines. It is only somewhat indicated here, but even with the marginality of the topic to sexism, he manages to make his point very clear.
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Guest More than 1 year ago
I read this book in a communication theory class. I have a background in biology and chemistry, so I feel like I had a bit of an advantage. However, this book is a good way for people who aren't intrigued by science to perhaps spark a new interest. Ridley's theories are ingenius and this book is great when read by a group. You will definately want to talk with others about the concepts presented in this book. I have taken so much insight from this book--from my understanding of the way humans operate in a group to my understanding of my own personal relationships. After reading this book, one finds it hard to justify tipping a waitress in a restaurant that one will never visit again. Read the book and you'll see what I mean!