Complexity 5 (2):23-28 (1999)

Authors
William F. Harms
Seattle Central Community College
Abstract
The evolution of economic altruism is one of the most vigorous areas of study at the intersection of biology, economics, and philosophy. The basic problem is easily understood. Biological organisms, be they people or paramecia, have ample opportunity to confer benefits on others at relatively low cost to themselves. If conferring such benefits becomes common, the overall productivity of the population in which it occurs is increased. Presumably, there is no advantage to refusing such benefits, but it is also the case that there is considerable advantage to pursuing a strategy according to which such benefits are accepted, but not conferred. In populations where individuals interact at random with others and when individuals play pure strategies (i.e., they always confer or do not confer benefits), the inevitable outcome is that altruistic behavior is driven to extinction. (Axelrod 1984) Nonetheless, there is ample evidence that self-sacrificing behavior is common in nature. (Sober and Wilson 1998) Consequently, individuals must not be interacting at random. The pressing question is then: what patterns of non-random interaction are responsible for the prevalence of altruistic behavior, and more theoretically, what sorts of plausible mechanisms exist that could generate the right kind of non- 1 The research reported here was supported by Canada ????? grant # ????? and the Centre for Applied Ethics at the University of British Columbia.
Keywords No keywords specified (fix it)
Categories (categorize this paper)
DOI 10.1002/(SICI)1099-0526(199911/12)5:2<23::AID-CPLX4>3.0.CO;2-F
Options
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Request removal from index
Revision history

Download options

PhilArchive copy


Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy     Papers currently archived: 56,913
Through your library

References found in this work BETA

Evolution of the Social Contract.Brian Skyrms - 1999 - Philosophical and Phenomenological Research 59 (1):229-236.
Evolution of the Social Contract.Brian Skyrms - 1997 - Philosophy 72 (282):604-606.

View all 8 references / Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

Add more citations

Similar books and articles

The Accidental Altruist.Jack Wilson - 2002 - Biology and Philosophy 17 (1):71-91.
Altruism: Brand Management or Uncontrollable Urge?Daniel Read - 2002 - Behavioral and Brain Sciences 25 (2):271-271.
Sober and Wilson on Psychological Altruism. [REVIEW]Dale Jamieson - 2002 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 65 (3):702–710.
Altruism is Never Self-Sacrifice.Michael Lewis - 2002 - Behavioral and Brain Sciences 25 (2):268-268.
Altruism and Emotions.Herbert Gintis - 2002 - Behavioral and Brain Sciences 25 (2):258-259.
‘Are theyMypoor?’: The Problem of Altruism in the World of Strangers.David Miller - 2002 - Critical Review of International Social and Political Philosophy 5 (4):106-127.
Altruism, Altruistic Punishment and Social Investment.Klaus Jaffe - 2004 - Acta Biotheoretica 52 (3):155-172.

Analytics

Added to PP index
2010-12-22

Total views
48 ( #208,446 of 2,409,595 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
1 ( #540,301 of 2,409,595 )

How can I increase my downloads?

Downloads

My notes