Altruism – A Philosophical Analysis

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 perspectiveson altruismare 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.

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Cite this paper

@inproceedings{Clavien2012AltruismA, title={Altruism – A Philosophical Analysis}, author={Christine Clavien and Michel Chapuisat}, year={2012} }