Is altruism really egoism?


Does Altruism Exist? Against the “Warm Glow” Argument

Models of human decision-making are just that: models, not the real thing. Another way to put this is to say that models are wrong. As the famous saying goes, all models are wrong, but some are useful. This leads to the question, useful for what? That is, just because a model is useful in one domain, doesn’t mean it’s useful in another domain. Case in point: economists. Traditionally, they have been working with a model of rational, egoistic decision-makers. Pretty much everybody knows that model is wrong because people sometimes act altruistically, but the model is useful model for many purposes. The trouble starts when people forget that it’s just a model that is supposed to be good for some purposes (and not others) and start to defend the model as though it were an entirely accurate description – a view that obviously does not conform to the empirical evidence. ….[READ]


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