Evolution, altruism, and the prisoner's dilemma

Biology and Philosophy 7 (2):161-175 (1992)

Ishtiyaque Haji
University of Calgary
I first argue against Peter Singer's exciting thesis that the Prisoner's Dilemma explains why there could be an evolutionary advantage in making reciprocal exchanges that are ultimately motivated by genuine altruism over making such exchanges on the basis of enlightened long-term self-interest. I then show that an alternative to Singer's thesis — one that is also meant to corroborate the view that natural selection favors genuine altruism, recently defended by Gregory Kavka, fails as well. Finally, I show that even granting Singer's and Kavka's claim about the selective advantage of altruism proper, it is doubtful whether that type of claim can be used in a particular sort of sociobiological argument against psychological egoism.
Keywords Altruism  evolution  Prisoner's Dilemma  sociobiology
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DOI 10.1007/BF00129881
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References found in this work BETA

Reasons and Persons.Derek Parfit - 1984 - Oxford University Press.
Hobbesian Moral and Political Theory.Gregory S. Kavka - 1986 - Princeton University Press.

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