Before we characterize some acts of human cooperation and reciprocity as “harmful” and “flawed,” as James A. Montanye does in the summer 2006 issue of The Independent Review, we should make every effort to understand their role in the trial and error of social evolution. Social scientists who attempt to eliminate a society’s “flaws” before they can provide better substitutes run the risk of making matters worse.

Xavier L. Simon is an independent writer in McLean, Virginia. He previously worked in private management positions and for twenty-two years with the World Bank.
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