On the relationship between evolutionary and psychological definitions of altruism and selfishness

Biology and Philosophy 7 (1):61-68 (1992)
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I examine the relationship between evolutionary definitions of altruism that are based on fitness effects and psychological definitions that are based on the motives of the actor. I show that evolutionary altruism can be motivated by proximate mechanisms that are psychologically either altruistic or selfish. I also show that evolutionary definitions do rely upon motives as a metaphor in which the outcome of natural selection is compared to the decisions of a psychologically selfish (or altruistic) individual. Ignoring the precise nature of both psychological and evolutionary definitions has obscured many important issues, including the biological roots of psychological altruism.



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Citations of this work

Burying the vehicle.Richard Dawkins - 1994 - Behavioral and Brain Sciences 17 (4):616-617.
Why is group selection such a problem?Randolph M. Nesse - 1994 - Behavioral and Brain Sciences 17 (4):633-634.
Hominids, coalitions, and weapons: Not vehicles.Jim Moore - 1994 - Behavioral and Brain Sciences 17 (4):632-632.
Adaptation and natural selection: A new look at some old ideas.Jeffry A. Simpson - 1994 - Behavioral and Brain Sciences 17 (4):634-636.

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References found in this work

Reason in Human Affairs.Herbert Simon - 1983 - Stanford University Press.
Taking Darwin Seriously.Michael Ruse - 1988 - Ethics 98 (2):400-402.
Vaulting Ambition.Philip Kitcher - 1988 - Noûs 22 (3):479-482.
Evolutionary altruism, psychological egoism, and morality: disentangling the phenotypes.Elliott Sober - 1993 - In Matthew Nitecki & Doris Nitecki (eds.), Evolutionary Ethics. Suny Press. pp. 199--216.

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