Sober and Wilson on psychological altruism [Book Review]

In their marvelous book, Unto Others: The Evolution and Psychology of Unselfish Behavior, Sober and Wilson identify two distinct problems of altruism.’ The problem of Evolutionary Altruism (EA) “is to show how behaviors that benefit others at the expense of self can evolve;” (17) group selection is the key to the solution of this problem. The problem of Psychological Altruism (PA) is to determine whether people “have altruistic desires that are psychologically ultimate.” (201) After carefully considering the arguments of both psychologists and philosophers, Sober and Wilson render the verdict “not proven.” But just in the nick of time, evolutionary biology rides to the rescue; it succeeds where psychology and philosophy fail in vindicating our good nature. In this paper, I will discuss Sober and Wilson’s treatment of PA.
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    Joshua May (2011). Egoism, Empathy, and Self-Other Merging. Southern Journal of Philosophy 49 (s1):25-39.
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