Cyrano And Scheherazade

question of why the speaker should altruistically give away information to an evolutionary competitor. Truthful communication is rare in nature because altruism is rare. As we saw in the previous chapter, naive altruism theories cannot explain human morality. Why should we invoke them to explain human language?

To explain language evolution, then, we need to do the same things we did for morality: find a hidden survival or reproductive benefit in the apparently altruistic act of speaking. As with morality, there are three basic options for the hidden benefit: kinship, reciprocity or sexual selection. The fitness benefits of speaking must have come from giving useful information to a relative, sustaining a mutually beneficial information-trading relationship, or attracting a mate. I am sure all three were important, and I am not going to claim that sexual choice was the only selection pressure that shaped human language. However, I do want to highlight some features of how people talk that are not very consistent with the kinship and reciprocity theories.

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