It is often said that at the heart of the human predicament lies the ‘incompatibility between a plural world of deep-seated cultural identities and the possibility of a single world of community values’.1 The dichotomy of plurality and universality, a latent theme in much ethical and normative discourse over the last few thousand years, appears to have gained unprecedented intensity in contemporary discourse on human governance. The different ways in which human beings have historically gone about the task of collectively satisfying their material and psychosocial needs reflect their varying responses to challenges both old and new. In this sense, the history of social organisation in its various forms, including the development of legal and political institutions, is itself part of a larger story, namely the evolution of the human species. It we are to make sense of human organisation, including its most recent ‘international’ manifestations, there is much to be gained from situating it within an evolutionary framework. To this end we propose to review a number of overlapping and at times competing evolutionary perspectives by way of elucidating the trajectory, modalities and implications of human sociality. We shall then be better placed to undertake in the next chapter a detailed analysis of the governance problématique as it has unfolded over the last several millennia. As our point of departure we argue that social, economic and political change is integral to the story of human governance.2 Particularly useful in this regard is Robert Cox’s notion of ‘historical structure’...
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