Biology & Philosophy

, Volume 29, Issue 1, pp 89–99 | Cite as

How domesticating fire facilitated the evolution of human cooperation



Controlled fire use by early humans could have facilitated the evolution of human cooperation. Individuals with regular access to the benefits of domestic fire would have been at an advantage over those with limited or no access. However, a campfire would have been relatively costly for an individual to maintain and open to free riders. By cooperating, individuals could have reduced maintenance costs, minimized free riding and lessened the risk of being without fire. Cooperators were more likely to survive and reproduce than uncooperative individuals because the former would have been better able to maximize a fire’s returns and enjoy regular access to its benefits. This is how the emergence of controlled fire use in Pleistocene human populations could have facilitated the evolution of cooperation.


Controlled fire use Cooperation Human evolution 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Social and Political Sciences (Anthropology Program), Faculty of ArtsThe University of MelbourneParkvilleAustralia

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