Handbook of Biology and Politics
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Handbook of Biology and Politics

Edited by Steven A. Peterson and Albert Somit

The study of biology and politics (or biopolitics) has gained considerable currency in recent years, as articles on the subject have appeared in mainstream journals and books on the subject have been well received. The literature has increased greatly since the 1960s and 1970s, when this specialization first made an appearance. This volume assesses the contributions of biology to political science. Chapters focus on general biological approaches to politics, biopolitical contributions to mainstream areas within political science, and linkages between biology and public policy. The volume provides readers with a comprehensive introduction to the subject.
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Chapter 26: Darwinian democracy? How evolutionary theory informs constitutional design

Michael Latner

Abstract

I develop a theory of political organization grounded in the algorithmic logic of Darwinian selection. Modern political systems sustain large-scale cooperation and reduce parasitism through the generation of institutions that select for favorable policy strategies and their associated behavioral traits. Competition over what traits should be favored requires institutions that explore variation in traits or strategies, while exploiting the value of existing traits that yield cooperative benefits. These insights are translated into three principles of political organization, principles that place constitutional democracy atop a series of major transitions in the evolution of cooperation.

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