Humans benefit from extensive cooperation; however, the existence of free-riders may cause cooperation to collapse. This is called the social dilemma. It has been shown that punishing free-riders is an effective way of resolving this problem. Because punishment is costly, this gives rise to the second-order social dilemma. Without exception, existing solutions rely on some stringent assumptions. This paper proposes, under very mild conditions, a simple model of a public goods game featuring increasing returns to scale. We find that punishers stand out and even dominate the population provided that the degree of increasing returns to scale is large enough; consequently, the second-order social dilemma dissipates. Historical evidence shows that people are more willing to cooperate with others and punish defectors when they suffer from either internal or external menaces. During the prehistoric age, the abundance of contributors was decisive in joint endeavours such as fighting floods, defending territory, and hunting. These situations serve as favourable examples of public goods games in which the degrees of increasing returns to scale are undoubtedly very large. Our findings show that natural selection has endowed human kind with a tendency to pursue justice and punish defection that deviates from social norms.
An important way to maintain human cooperation is punishing defection. However, since punishment is costly, how can it arise and evolve given that individuals who contribute but do not punish fare better than the punishers? This leads to a violation of causality, since the evolution of punishment is prior to the one of cooperation behaviour in evolutionary dynamics. Our public goods game computer simulations based on generalized Moran Process, show that, if there exists a 'behaviour-based sympathy' that compensates those who punish at a personal cost, the way for the emergence and establishment of punishing behaviour is paved. In this way, the causality violation dissipates. Among humans sympathy can be expressed in many ways such as care, praise, solace, ethical support, admiration, and sometimes even adoration; in our computer simulations, we use a small amount of transfer payment to express 'behaviour-based sympathy'. Our conclusions indicate that, there exists co-evolution of sympathy, punishment and cooperation. According to classical philosophy literature, sympathy is a key factor in morality and justice is embodied by punishment; in modern societies, both the moral norms and the judicial system, the representations of sympathy and punishment, play an essential role in stable social cooperation.