Does altruism exist?

 

altrusim

The Biology of Being Good to Others

Altruism may seem a good thing—unless you happen to be an evolutionary biologist. Then it may seem a mixture of a mystery and a curse. The reason isn’t hard to see. How could a ruthless process like Darwinian natural selection give rise to altruistic organisms, human or nonhuman, that act in ways that are costly to themselves and helpful to others? Darwin himself was aware of the difficulty and offered some tentative solutions, but it was during the twentieth century that altruism became the subject of nearly fetishistic attention among evolutionary biologists. One imaginable solution is to deny that altruism really exists in nature or to claim that it’s so rare as to be unworthy of serious attention. Another solution is to construct clever theories that show how natural selection is actually expected to yield altruism. Such theories typically hinge on the level at which natural selection acts. Does it select for fitter organisms, or fitter genes, or populations, or species? Indeed the problem of altruism and the so-called levels-of-selection problem have become nearly inseparable…..[READ]

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