Sociology Index


Altruism is social behavior and value orientation in which individuals give primary consideration to the interests and welfare of other individuals, members of groups or the community as a whole. In altruistic regard for others is the principle of action. The term altruism was used by David Emile Durkheim to describe a Suicide as Altruistic Suicide, committed for the benefit of others or for the community: this would include self-sacrifice for military objectives in wartime. The moral theory of consequentialism, including utilitarianism, supports the aim of using resources to benefit others as much as possible, but effective altruism is not necessarily, as has sometimes been said, the same as consequentialism.

Sociobiologists argue that altruism and altruistic behavior has its roots in self-interest, the unconscious desire to protect one's genetic heritage. Critics of sociobiology respond that altruism is evident between individuals and in situations where people are completely unrelated genetically and that human conduct and motivations cannot be explained without reference to the values and norms of culture.

Altruism refers to improving the lives of others, as opposed to egoism, which emphasizes only self-interest. - Singer, Peter (2015). The Most Good You Can Do: How Effective Altruism Is Changing Ideas About Living Ethically.

Effective altruism is not a complete philosophy of how to live morally, but effective altruism may be relevant for any view that assumes some reason to promote the good and that assumes that the well-being of others is part of the good. Effective altruism is a philosophy and social movement that advocates using evidence and reasoning to determine the most effective ways to benefit others. - MacAskill, William "Effective altruism: introduction" (January 2017).

Dustin Aaron Moskovitz co-founded the philanthropic organization Good Ventures with Cari Tuna in 2011. In June 2012, Good Ventures announced a close partnership with charity evaluator GiveWell. Both organizations "are aiming to do as much good as possible" and thereby align with the goals of effective altruism.

Altruistic punishment and the origin of cooperation - How did human cooperation evolve? Recent evidence shows that many people are willing to engage in altruistic punishment, voluntarily paying a cost to punish noncooperators. If altruistic punishment provides benefits to nonpunishers and is costly to punishers, then how could it evolve? Simple evolutionary model suggests that the cycle of strategies in voluntary public goods games does not persist in the presence of punishment strategies.

Religious Altruism and Organ Donation - David J. Dixon, Susan E. Abbey. 
Clinicians performing psychiatric assessments of potential organ donors must consider the motivations behind an act that is strictly in terms of its physiological implications, entirely altruistic. The authors present two case reports in which proposed kidney donors conceptualized their offers exclusively in terms of their religious beliefs and not in terms of kinship or emotional intimacy with the intended recipients. The negative reactions of some clinicians to the offers reveal the readiness with which religious beliefs can be pathologized and the way in which biological relationships can unduly restrict the clinical understanding of healthy altruism.

Theory of Mind and Altruism - Lesley Black. Abstract: Taking another’s point of view, and the tendency to help others out, are examined in this correlational study of five year-olds. Theory of mind and Altruism are both centered on an individual thinking about others’ thoughts and thus should be highly correlated. The battery consists of second-order theory of mind measures, altruism inventories, and inhibitory control tasks. Verbal mental ability, age and the inhibitory control measures will be used as control variables. Altruism and second order theory of mind were correlated, which provides support for our hypothesis.

Self Interest, Altruism, Incentives, and Agency Theory - MICHAEL C. JENSEN, Harvard Business School. 

Abstract: Many people are suspicious of self-interest and incentives and oppose motivating humans through incentives. I analyze the meaning of incentives in the logic of choice and argue that it is inconceivable that purposeful actions are anything other than responses to incentives. Where money incentives are required, they are required precisely because people are motivated by things other than money.

Self-interest is consistent with altruistic motives. Agency problems, however, cannot be solved by instilling greater altruism in people because altruism, the concern for the well-being of others, does not make a person into a perfect agent who does the bidding of others.