The paradox of dying for one’s motherland


  • Laura Rabanal Cajal
  • Elisa Soler


Large-scale warfare is still an open question in the frontiers of evolutionary psychology. Why would your genes sacrifice themselves for your non-related war comrades? How does this idea coexist with the principles of the selfish gene? The solution to this paradox may be outside the realm of pure biology and needs to be analysed with a cultural perspective. Just as successful phenotypic traits are selected to pass to the next generation, cultural traits may undergo the same process ruled by group-structured cultural selection. Human warfare meets the two basic requirements needed to be sensible to cultural selection, these being: 1. Obvious cultural differences between groups engaging in warfare; 2. Warfare's outcome influences the spread of each group's cultural norms.






Treballs d'Ecologia Evolutiva