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date: 25 September 2017

Abstract and Keywords

This article examines biological theories and evidence about the evolution of human traits that are relevant for the development of human rights law. It highlights the human potential for violent and aggressive acts and discusses the emergence of a biological capacity for altruism. It evaluates the hypothesis about the capacity of groups of animals to maintain cooperative and altruistic behaviours despite competition for resources. This article also considers biological adaptations that have enabled humans to engage regularly in altruistic behaviours towards those outside of their family and immediate group.

Keywords: human rights law, biological theories, human traits, altruism, cooperative behaviour, biological adaptations

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