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Proximate and ultimate causes of punishment and strong reciprocity

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  31 January 2012

Pat Barclay
Department of Psychology, University of Guelph, East Guelph, Ontario, N1G 2W1, Canada. barclayp@uoguelph.ca


While admirable, Guala's discussion of reciprocity suffers from a confusion between proximate causes (psychological mechanisms triggering behaviour) and ultimate causes (evolved function of those psychological mechanisms). Because much work on “strong reciprocity” commits this error, I clarify the difference between proximate and ultimate causes of cooperation and punishment. I also caution against hasty rejections of “wide readings” of experimental evidence.

Open Peer Commentary
Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2012

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