Shared Principles and
Frans B. M. de Waal & Filippo Aureli
As the present volume attests, in a wide range of disciplines—from law to developmental psychology, and from anthropology to primatology—a shift in emphasis is under way, which makes social relationships a central aspect in our thinking about human and animal behavior. Instead of the traditional focus on behavioral output and how it is generated, the focus is now on behavioral interaction and how it unfolds within the relationship between two parties, how it modifies the relationship, and functions within it. In this perspective, conflict is not merely a matter of aggressive tendencies or of who wins or who loses. Conflict is part and parcel of relationships, generated by the colliding interests of individuals and constrained by their overlapping interests (de Waal, Chapter 2).
The disciplines represented in this volume do not always communicate with one another, and they use quite different vocabularies to address these issues, but a number of shared principles are easily recognizable. First, there is a need for peaceful coexistence among cooperative entities. Peace does not always have priority over conflict—if so, there never would be any open conflict—but the need to harmonize is urgent enough that it affects the course and intensity of conflict. Evolutionary pressures favoring cooperation have led to powerful management and reparative mechanisms. This has led to great complexity in the regulation and negotiation of social relationships. For example, the variation in dominance styles among nonhuman primates (Preuschoft & van Schaik, Chapter 5; Thierry, Chapter 6; Sapolsky, Box 6.1; Pereira &