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Altruism, however, is just as misplaced as selfishness is, and, contrary to what you've just said, there really isn't very much evidence for it in any field of social science.

Repeating what you said before without any more evidence does not make for a stronger case.

I'm really not in the mood to dig out the vast literature on altruism. In fact one of the philosophical issues that presents a problem from the Darwinian point of view is why would someone (or animal) sacrifice itself for other. Nevertheless we see instances of this all the time.

From the dictionary:
Selfishness - devoted to or caring only for oneself; concerned primarily with one's own interests, benefits, welfare, etc., regardless of others.
Synonym -  self-interested, self-seeking, egoistic; illiberal, parsimonious, stingy.

The key is that one type of behavior is focused on self and altruism is focused on the other.

You have not added anything to your case. And as I said ethical principles don't depend upon psychology they are a matter of fairness and equity.

Policies not Politics
---- Daily Landscape

by rdf (robert.feinman@gmail.com) on Sun Mar 1st, 2009 at 04:16:41 PM EST
[ Parent ]
There is a large, not vast, literature on altruism, and it is the basis for socialism as a political philosophy.  I'm pretty familiar with it, but, like most social scientist ranging from Marxists to Austrian School rightists, I don't find it very convincing, empirically.  With all its faults, even simplistic selfishness just explains the data on human behavior better, and classic self-interest, which includes as a subset the desire to help others, explains it even better, both theoretically and empirically.  That's why the literature is so much more vast for non-altruistic assumptions.  
by santiago on Sun Mar 1st, 2009 at 06:17:13 PM EST
[ Parent ]

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