What is altruism?


Authors
Peter Godfrey-Smith
University of Sydney
Abstract
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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Varieties of Population Structure and the Levels of Selection.Peter Godfrey-Smith - 2008 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 59 (1):25-50.
Biological Altruism.Samirn D. Okasha - 2008 - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
Altruism, Group Selection and Correlated Interaction.Samir Okasha - 2005 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 56 (4):703-725.

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