Crossing scales, crossing disciplines: Collective motion and collective action in the Global Commons

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

24 Scopus citations

Abstract

Two conflicting tendencies can be seen throughout the biological world: individuality and collective behaviour. Natural selection operates on differences among individuals, rewarding those who perform better. Nonetheless, even within this milieu, cooperation arises, and the repeated emergence of multicellularity is the most striking example. The same tendencies are played out at higher levels, as individuals cooperate in groups, which compete with other such groups. Many of our environmental and other global problems can be traced to such conflicts, and to the unwillingness of individual agents to take account of the greater good. One of the great challenges in achieving sustainability will be in understanding the basis of cooperation, and in taking multicellularity to yet a higher level, finding the pathways to the level of cooperation that is the only hope for the preservation of the planet.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)13-18
Number of pages6
JournalPhilosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences
Volume365
Issue number1537
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 12 2010

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)

Keywords

  • Collective motion
  • Cooperation
  • Global commons
  • Social norms

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