University of Cambridge > Talks.cam > Biological Anthropology Seminar Series > The Goodness Paradox: How self-domestication contributes to explaining the uniquely human combination of good and evil.

The Goodness Paradox: How self-domestication contributes to explaining the uniquely human combination of good and evil.

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The Goodness Paradox is that humans are both one of the most violent species and one of the most peaceful species. This is paradoxical if aggression is viewed as being on a single scale. The problem is resolved, however, when aggression is seen as falling into two major categories (proactive and reactive) because compared to other primates, humans are relatively up-regulated in the tendency for proactive aggression, and down-regulated in the tendency for reactive aggression. This combination of tendencies is highly unusual in animals. I suggest that it can be explained by the evolution of a unique capacity for proactive coalitional aggression called targeted conspiratorial killing (TCK). TCK led to down-regulation of reactive aggression (i.e. self-domestication), which is identifiable with the evolution of Homo sapiens. Self-domestication is also logically linked with major changes in social behaviour and cognition, affecting numerous aspects of human life including male egalitarianism, cooperation and a morality of fairness.

This talk is part of the Biological Anthropology Seminar Series series.

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