What is altruism?
David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Jack Alan Reynolds
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Altruism is generally understood to be behavior that benefits others at a personal cost to the behaving individual. However, within evolutionary biology, different authors have interpreted the concept of altruism differently, leading to dissimilar predictions about the evolution of altruistic behavior. Generally, different interpretations diverge on which party receives the benefit from altruism and on how the cost of altruism is assessed. Using a simple trait-group framework, we delineate the assumptions underlying different interpretations and show how they relate to one another. We feel that a thorough examination of the connections between interpretations not only reveals why different authors have arrived at disparate conclusions about altruism, but also illuminates the conditions that are likely to favor the evolution of altruism.
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Citations of this work BETA
Grant Ramsey (forthcoming). Can Altruism Be Unified? Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences.
Adrian Furnham, Luke Treglown, Gillian Hyde & Geoff Trickey (forthcoming). The Bright and Dark Side of Altruism: Demographic, Personality Traits, and Disorders Associated with Altruism. Journal of Business Ethics.
Pamela Lyon (2007). From Quorum to Cooperation: Lessons From Bacterial Sociality for Evolutionary Theory. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C 38 (4):820-833.
Johannes Martens (2011). Social Evolution and Strategic Thinking. Biology and Philosophy 26 (5):697-715.
Pierrick Bourrat (2015). Distinguishing Natural Selection From Other Evolutionary Processes in the Evolution of Altruism. Biological Theory 10 (4):311-321.
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