A veil of ignorance can promote fairness in a mammal society

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dc.contributor.author Marshall, H. H.
dc.contributor.author Johnstone, R. A.
dc.contributor.author Thompson, F. J.
dc.contributor.author Nichols, H. J.
dc.contributor.author Wells, D.
dc.contributor.author Hoffman, J. I.
dc.contributor.author Kalema-Zikusoka, G.
dc.contributor.author Sanderson, J. L.
dc.contributor.author Vitikainen, E. I. K.
dc.contributor.author Blount, J. D.
dc.contributor.author Cant, M. A.
dc.date.accessioned 2021-07-23T11:52:01Z
dc.date.available 2021-07-23T11:52:01Z
dc.date.issued 2021-06-23
dc.identifier.citation Marshall , H H , Johnstone , R A , Thompson , F J , Nichols , H J , Wells , D , Hoffman , J I , Kalema-Zikusoka , G , Sanderson , J L , Vitikainen , E I K , Blount , J D & Cant , M A 2021 , ' A veil of ignorance can promote fairness in a mammal society ' , Nature Communications , vol. 12 , no. 1 , 3717 . https://doi.org/10.1038/s41467-021-23910-6
dc.identifier.other PURE: 166860284
dc.identifier.other PURE UUID: 93fe92cf-a145-46dc-8b96-e4657f3c30ee
dc.identifier.other WOS: 000668759800001
dc.identifier.other ORCID: /0000-0003-3718-0941/work/97417889
dc.identifier.uri http://hdl.handle.net/10138/332541
dc.description.abstract Rawls argued that fairness in human societies can be achieved if decisions about the distribution of societal rewards are made from behind a veil of ignorance, which obscures the personal gains that result. Whether ignorance promotes fairness in animal societies, that is, the distribution of resources to reduce inequality, is unknown. Here we show experimentally that cooperatively breeding banded mongooses, acting from behind a veil of ignorance over kinship, allocate postnatal care in a way that reduces inequality among offspring, in the manner predicted by a Rawlsian model of cooperation. In this society synchronized reproduction leaves adults in a group ignorant of the individual parentage of their communal young. We provisioned half of the mothers in each mongoose group during pregnancy, leaving the other half as matched controls, thus increasing inequality among mothers and increasing the amount of variation in offspring birth weight in communal litters. After birth, fed mothers provided extra care to the offspring of unfed mothers, not their own young, which levelled up initial size inequalities among the offspring and equalized their survival to adulthood. Our findings suggest that a classic idea of moral philosophy also applies to the evolution of cooperation in biological systems. Obscuring knowledge of personal gains from individuals can theoretically maintain fairness in a cooperative group. Experiments show that wild, cooperatively breeding banded mongooses uncertain of kinship allocate postnatal care in a way that reduces inequality among offspring, suggesting a classic idea of moral philosophy can apply in biological systems. en
dc.format.extent 8
dc.language.iso eng
dc.relation.ispartof Nature Communications
dc.rights cc_by
dc.rights.uri info:eu-repo/semantics/openAccess
dc.subject EVOLUTION
dc.subject INFERENCE
dc.subject BEHAVIOR
dc.subject YOUNG
dc.subject CARE
dc.subject 1181 Ecology, evolutionary biology
dc.title A veil of ignorance can promote fairness in a mammal society en
dc.type Article
dc.contributor.organization Biosciences
dc.contributor.organization Faculty of Biological and Environmental Sciences
dc.description.reviewstatus Peer reviewed
dc.relation.doi https://doi.org/10.1038/s41467-021-23910-6
dc.relation.issn 2041-1723
dc.rights.accesslevel openAccess
dc.type.version publishedVersion

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