Altruism and selfishness

Behavioral and Brain Sciences 25 (2):239-250 (2002)
Abstract
Many situations in human life present choices between (a) narrowly preferred particular alternatives and (b) narrowly less preferred (or aversive) particular alternatives that nevertheless form part of highly preferred abstract behavioral patterns. Such alternatives characterize problems of self-control. For example, at any given moment, a person may accept alcoholic drinks yet also prefer being sober to being drunk over the next few days. Other situations present choices between (a) alternatives beneficial to an individual and (b) alternatives that are less beneficial (or harmful) to the individual that would nevertheless be beneficial if chosen by many individuals. Such alternatives characterize problems of social cooperation; choices of the latter alternative are generally considered to be altruistic. Altruism, like self-control, is a valuable temporally-extended pattern of behavior. Like self-control, altruism may be learned and maintained over an individual's lifetime. It needs no special inherited mechanism. Individual acts of altruism, each of which may be of no benefit (or of possible harm) to the actor, may nevertheless be beneficial when repeated over time. However, because each selfish decision is individually preferred to each altruistic decision, people can benefit from altruistic behavior only when they are committed to an altruistic pattern of acts and refuse to make decisions on a case-by-case basis.
Keywords addiction  commitment  cooperation  defection  reciprocation  self-control
Categories (categorize this paper)
DOI 10.1017/S0140525X02000055
Options
 Save to my reading list
Follow the author(s)
Edit this record
My bibliography
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Mark as duplicate
Request removal from index
Revision history
Download options
Our Archive


Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy     Papers currently archived: 30,349
Through your library
References found in this work BETA

No references found.

Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

No citations found.

Add more citations

Similar books and articles
Rationality and Illusion.Jonathan Baron - 2002 - Behavioral and Brain Sciences 25 (2):252-253.
Valuable Reputation Gained by Altruistic Behavioral Patterns.Claus Wedekind - 2002 - Behavioral and Brain Sciences 25 (2):279-280.
Altruism: Brand Management or Uncontrollable Urge?Daniel Read - 2002 - Behavioral and Brain Sciences 25 (2):271-271.
Teleological Behaviorism and Altruism.Hugh Lacey - 2002 - Behavioral and Brain Sciences 25 (2):266-267.
Learning to Cooperate: Reciprocity and Self-Control.Peter Danielson - 2002 - Behavioral and Brain Sciences 25 (2):256-257.
Altruism is a Social Behavior.Richard Schuster - 2002 - Behavioral and Brain Sciences 25 (2):272-274.
Altruism and Emotions.Herbert Gintis - 2002 - Behavioral and Brain Sciences 25 (2):258-259.
Altruism is a Form of Self-Control.Howard Rachlin - 2002 - Behavioral and Brain Sciences 25 (2):284-291.
Behaviorism and Altruistic Acts.J. McKenzie Alexander - 2002 - Behavioral and Brain Sciences 25 (2):252-252.
Added to PP index
2009-01-28

Total downloads
50 ( #107,568 of 2,193,595 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
2 ( #145,717 of 2,193,595 )

How can I increase my downloads?

Monthly downloads
My notes
Sign in to use this feature