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Altruism – A Philosophical Analysis

Chapuisat, Michel
Published in eLS. 2012
Abstract Altruism is a malleable notion that is understood differently in various disciplines. The common denominator of most definitions of altruism is the idea of unidirectional helping behaviour. However, a closer examination reveals that the term altruism sometimes refers to the outcomes of a helping behaviour for the agent and its neighbours – that is, reproductive altruism – and sometimes to what motivates the agent to help others – that is, psychological altruism. Since these perspectives on altruism are crucially different, it is important to use a clear terminology to avoid confusion. In particular, we show that the notion of altruism used by biologists profoundly differs from the ones used by philosophers, psychologists and economists in cross-disciplinary debates about human altruism.
Keywords AltruismHelpingKin selectionHamilton's ruleHuman altruismMotivationProximate versus ultimate explanationPsychological altruismReproductive altruismWeak altruism
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CLAVIEN, Christine, CHAPUISAT, Michel. Altruism – A Philosophical Analysis. In: eLS, 2012.

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Deposited on : 2015-08-17

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