Evolution, altruism and "internal reward" explanations

Philosophical Forum 33 (4):413–424 (2002)
Abstract
Internal rewards are the psychological benefits one receives by performing certain other-regarding actions. Internal rewards include such benefits as the avoidance of guilt, the avoidance of painful memories, and the attainment of warm, fuzzy feelings. Despite the limitations of social psychology, Sober and Wilson believe that evolutionary theory can show that it is more likely for benevolent other-regarding motivational mechanisms to have evolved, thereby supporting the altruist’s claim. Here, I will argue for two related theses. First, if internal reward explanations pose a problem for social psychology, then they also pose a problem for evolutionary theory. Second, there is no need to think that internal reward explanations pose a problem for altruists because these explanations either do not inform us about what our ultimate motives really are or they unreasonably define out of existence the possibility of altruism.
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