This research study used descriptive phenomenological methods to investigate and document the lived experience of altruism as described by moral exemplars. Six moral exemplars wrote descriptions of situations in which they engaged in spontaneous altruism. Altruism was defined for the purpose of this study as a motivational state with the ultimate goal of increasing another's welfare . These descriptions were then expanded and clarified through follow up interviews. The results of this descriptive phenomenological analysis produced two structures: the structure of the lived experience of altruism as described by moral exemplars, and the structure of the lived experience of helping as described by moral exemplars. The differences between these two structures suggest that altruistically motivated pro-social behavior is more committed, extensive and effective than egoistically motivated helping, and results in a higher level of concern for the long-term well-being of the individuals helped. Although differentiated by primary motivations, altruistic or egoistic, both structures identify the motivating factors of empathy, personal historical life experiences, moral values, and personal identity as essential to the experience of assisting another individual in need
Categories (categorize this paper)
DOI 10.1163/156916207X190247
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: 70,079
Through your library

References found in this work BETA

Logical Investigations.Edmund Husserl - 1970 - London, England: Routledge.
Logical Investigations.Edmund Husserl & J. N. Findlay - 1972 - Journal of Philosophy 69 (13):384-398.
Civilization and its Discontents.Sigmund Freud - 1952/1930 - In John Martin Rich (ed.), Readings in the Philosophy of Education. Belmont, Calif., Wadsworth Pub. Co..

View all 15 references / Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

Add more citations

Similar books and articles

Exemplarist Virtue Theory.Linda Zagzebski - 2010 - Metaphilosophy 41 (1-2):41-57.
The Lived Experience of Spontaneous Altruism: A Phenomenological Study.Lisa Mastain - 2006 - Journal of Phenomenological Psychology 37 (1):25-52.
The Perceived Personality of Moral Exemplars.Lawrence J. Walker - 1999 - Journal of Moral Education 28 (2):145-162.
The Ethics of Altruism.Jonathan Seglow (ed.) - 2004 - F. Cass Publishers.
Altruism Versus Self-Interest: Sometimes a False Dichotomy.Neera Kapur Badhwar - 1993 - Social Philosophy and Policy 10 (1):90-117.
Basics of Spiritual Altruism.Sangeetha Menon - 2007 - Journal of Transpersonal Psychology 39 (2):137-152.
Egoism and Altruism.Bernard A. O. Williams - 1973 - In Problems of the Self. Cambridge University Press.


Added to PP index

Total views
58 ( #196,103 of 2,506,036 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
1 ( #416,828 of 2,506,036 )

How can I increase my downloads?


My notes