Exchange in human and nonhuman societies

Upton Sinclair's novel, The Jungle (1906), is a brutally graphic account of the ruthless competition in the stockyards and slaughterhouses of Chicago at the turn of the nineteenth century. Literary observers like Sinclair, and social observers in general, have often appealed to an imaginary animal-like struggle for survival in search of analogies that describe human conduct in the marketplace. The analogy is unfair to humans as much as to animals. In reality, the essential pattern of market...

Convergent body structures

To narrow the search for the origins of exchange, either at the nepotistic level or at the mercantile level, it is useful to make a rigorous distinction between these two levels of organization - this time, purely on the grounds of evolutionary considerations. Treated as an adaptation, market exchange best fits the description of a specific character an attribute of an organism that defines the species or, at least, helps to set the species apart from others. Much of the discussion throughout...

Tentative conclusions

The following points should summarize the main conclusions from the discussion thus far. First, concerning basic patterns of either symbiotic exchange or nepotistic exchange, we find little difference in kind between human beings and animals. There are obvious differences in largely discredited by recent trends. Contrary to the Malthusian scenario, food supply has never fallen significantly behind the world population. For most areas of the world - with the exception of parts of Africa - the...

Mercantile exchange

On the first day of March in 1834 the HMS Beagle was anchored off the coast of Tierra del Fuego, moored by a beautiful little cove, in Darwin's words, with her stern not 100 yards from the mountain side. The 4 Rigorous economic inquiry by Becker, Mincer, and their colleagues, has been applied in recent decades to a wide array of unconventional topics discrimination, fertility, parental investment, marriage, home production, crime, addiction, and so on (see, for instance, Becker 1976a,b , and...

Contents

2 Exchange in human and nonhuman societies 9 Adam Smith's zoological digression 9 Symbiotic exchange 11 Kin and nepotistic exchange 14 Mercantile exchange 20 Tentative conclusions 24 3 Classical economics and classical Darwinism 26 Darwin and the Scottish economists The first point of junction 26 The fundamental economic problem of human Darwin's self-restraint 27 Darwin's principle of utility The second point of Separate approaches to a common puzzle 34 Diversity of human nature The third...

Division of labor in insect society

Especially innovative in this class of adaptations is a toned down mode of sexual reproduction known as haplodiploidy. Among other things, it enables certain species of (hymenopterous) social insects -ants, bees, and wasps - to reproduce sexually, yet engage in division of labor and exchange on a large scale with little conflict. Under hap-lodiploidy, female offspring are conceived sexually, whereas males are derived from unfertilized eggs. Though males are reproduced asexually, their immediate...

Darwins principle of utility The second point of junction

Any attempt to account for human exchange is absent from the writings of Wallace as much as from the writings of Darwin. But with Wallace the absence is more conspicuous simply because he was ready and willing to ponder the evolution of the human mind without the inhibitions typical of Darwin. There are other differences. Unlike Darwin who was first and foremost an advocate of descent and evolutionary continuity, Wallace was the guardian of natural selection. Certain conflicts between the...

Baboon speciation versus human specialization

The chimpanzee is our closest nonhuman relative and, on the whole, is probably the best animal model of human individual behavior. A society of chimpanzees, however, is not necessarily the best model of human society. Strictly in terms of group behavior, humans may bear - perhaps uncomfortably - a closer resemblance to a society of baboons. In fact, of all the animals that live in groups, only the baboons provide a model of group formation (known as the fusion-fission system, after Kummer,...

The sexual division of labor

The changing roles played by gender cut not so much within as, on many occasions, across the two spheres of human subsistence the domestic sphere of operation and the extradomestic (or market) sphere. For nearly 2 million years of hunting-gathering, it is now widely believed, the sexual division of labor was the central organizing principle of human procurement of food and other resources from nature. Hunting-gathering (and fishing) activities tend to favor at least partial separation of male...

Convergent social structures

Engineers, Richard Dawkins points out, are often the people best qualified to analyse how animal and plant bodies work, because efficient mechanisms have to obey the same principles whether they are designed or designoid (1996 19). The question is whether the same logic can be extended one order of organization higher - from body structures to social structures. There is no shortage of synthetic principles that can explain social behavior. Chief among them, it seems, is the principal of...

Runaway arms races in a vertical feeding ecology

The brain consumes eight times its share in metabolic energy, at rest. Indeed, as we saw, human beings expend about 16 of their basal metabolic energy to fuel a brain that weighs an average of 1.3 kg (roughly 2 of body weight). At this size, the human brain is already twice as large, and twice as expensive, as that of a primate similar in size. There must have been a compelling adaptive reason for such an expensive tissue to double in size over a relatively short evolutionary time span (i.e., 2...

Diversity of human nature The third point of junction

The single most comprehensive and probably the most important piece of work in nineteenth-century economics, Principles of Economics by Alfred Marshall, was published in 1889 - almost a decade after Darwin's death. Marshall was already in a position to make a preliminary evaluation of the impact of Darwinism on the social sciences and on economics in particular. As he saw it, At last the speculations of biology made a great stride forward its discoveries fascinated the attention of the world as...

Kin and nepotistic exchange

Going beyond symbiosis, what are the advantages of exchange within a species, and to whom do they matter Domesticated animals have little use for such advantages because humans control the distribution of resources among them, from food to shelter to territory, and humans also coordinate their vital activities choice of mates, parental efforts, rest, herding, and defense against predators - to mention only some functions of exchange. Thus, domesticated animals have long been shielded from...

The incredible shrinking gut

Among the sailors who crisscrossed the oceans during the sixteenth century few knew how to swim. It was pointless. A sailboat at sea could not be stopped or turned to rescue a shipmate washed or fallen overboard. The hazards of the occupation could not escape the attention of sailors struggling to lash unruly sails in unpredictable gale-force winds. One slip on the upper yards meant almost certain death. Given the state of the art and the perils of the sea, casualties from accidents and disease...

Antipredator behavior

The human parallels with the baboon go much farther than diet. The 3 Depending on species and gender, they measure about 30-90lb (14-41 kg) in weight and 20-45 inches (50-115 cm) in length, not counting the tail. Like the Australopithecine, male baboons are roughly twice the size of females. transition from woodland to grassland is more than merely an adaptation of an arboreal animal to terrestrial browsing on forest floors or forest clearings. Life on grassland entails daily foraging...

The capacity for specialization and differentiation

The capacity for specialization can greatly enhance the advantage of division of labor. By its very nature, specialization displays endless peculiarities that differ from species to species (each according to the tasks important to its survival). All these peculiarities, however, are governed by a common principle a high degree of task-oriented phenotypic plasticity either in morphology or in behavior, or in both. The degree of phe-notypic plasticity is elevated precisely because diversity is...

Parallels in the feeding ecology

The unique evolutionary experience humans share with baboons, and with no other family of large primates - apes or monkeys - is a parallel ecological conversion. In a fundamental transition for both, grass replaced the forest tree as the central feature of subsistence. The ancient association of humans with relatively open country is evident in faunal analysis and fossil pollen analyses showing that the earliest known fossil specimens of hominids between 4 and 2 million years ago all derive...

The primate connection

The central organizing principle in the social life of all mammals is the relationship between the lactating female and her offspring. All other arrangements are derivatives of this invariant and most binding con straint on resources, time, and effort. The fact that female mammals nurture their embryos internally and nurse their infants externally clearly defines the female role in parental care and, by extension, predetermines the sexual division of labor in general. Secondary aspects of...