Download Altruism (Concepts in the Social Sciences) by Niall Scott, Jonathan Seglow PDF

By Niall Scott, Jonathan Seglow

Comprensive exam of analysis and concept. This e-book will saticefy either the pro and renowned reader. this isn't pop psychology yet a major exam of an imporant behavioral notion. the pro group may benefit tremendously from an exam of its empirical and theoretical parts. the overall reader, with a flavor for critical behavioral conception will achieve huge perception into a big component of human habit. A demanding yet relaxing learn for either different types of reader.

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Additional info for Altruism (Concepts in the Social Sciences)

Example text

Wynne-Edwards observed that grouse sometimes failed to reproduce when their flock was threatened with a shortage of food. He suggested that large collections of animals, such as flocks of birds, are able to assess Kerrypress Ltd – Typeset in XML A Division: chap03 F Sequential 4 JOBNAME: SM − MSEL PAGE: 5 SESS: 10 OUTPUT: Wed Aug 8 12:23:36 2007 SUM: 4361EA16 /production/mcgraw−hill/booksxml/scoseg/chap03 Altruism and evolution 43 their size in relation to their food supply and forgo reproduction in a way that ensures the survival of the group (Wynne-Edwards 1962).

This seems fairly uncontentious. We need help and assistance from others and altruism is an important component of this. It is interesting here that Kant in his political writings recognizes a psychological tension in human behaviour, which may be familiar to the reader’s experience: people often desire both solitude and sociability. When in the company of others we seek solitude and when in solitude we long for the company of others. The origins of morality and altruism may have developed as a response to this tension in social organization, trying to deal with this predicament of being pulled in different directions.

However, sociobiologists are often too quick in inferring conclusions about the moral behaviour of human beings simply from their genetic adaptations: their arguments which bridge this gap are often quite poor. They tend to blur the boundary between the strict evolutionary definition of altruism given above and moral – or vernacular – definitions. For one thing, this jumps what moral philosophers have called the is/ought gap. Evolution is simply a process. We may be entitled to draw some conclusions from it about how humans (and other animals) have behaved, morally or otherwise, but we cannot ground moral values concerning how we ought to behave in a set of merely evolutionary facts.

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