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how systematically is systematically enough?  I'd say that that is to vague an argument to philosophically employed, capble of salami slicing any opposing argument.

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Sun Mar 1st, 2009 at 06:38:25 PM EST
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That you can make a mental model of it good enough to make a prediction and observe the evidence that the prediction is true.  Same standard that applies to self-interest as the principal motivation for human behavior.  There aren't many good models of altruism that explain much about what happens in the real world.  But there are lots of good models of self-interest and lots of evidence to back them up.
by santiago on Sun Mar 1st, 2009 at 10:57:09 PM EST
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I'm ssure thats down to results being more easily experimentally observed. Altruistic results tend to be more indirect, and so less easily testable.

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Mon Mar 2nd, 2009 at 08:33:33 AM EST
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That's not necessarily true, although certainly a possibility. Quite a bit of work is currently being done in this area related to the phenomenon of migrants sending remittance payments to family members in their countries' of origin, which has exploded in volume in the last 20 years all over the world.  Sociologists (Massey and Stark being the most prominent in this) have tested specifically for altruism or reciprocity, and most of the evidence comes down on the side of reciprocity -- migrants' families provide something, or provide a source of security of the migrant's interests, in return for remittance payments which smooth consumption patterns of their families back home.  
by santiago on Mon Mar 2nd, 2009 at 11:14:18 AM EST
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