PSA2016: The 25th Biennial Meeting of the Philosophy of Science Association

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The Evolution of the Sense of Fairness

The human sense of fairness is an evolutionary puzzle. Although fairness itself is empirically intractable, it can be translated empirically into responses to reward distribution. Humans are not alone in disliking inequity; other species, too, respond negatively to unequal outcomes as compared to a social partner, and studying these species’ reactions can tell us something about the evolution of our own behavior. My lab’s findings indicate that this response to inequality, combined with advanced abilities at inhibition and planning, allowed the evolution of a complete sense of fairness in humans that supports individuals’ continued success in cooperation.

Author Information:

Sarah Brosnan    
Georgia State University


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