Advertisement

The Ways of Altruism

  • Gualtiero Piccinini
  • Armin W. Schulz
Research Article

Abstract

We argue that some organisms are altruistically motivated and such altruistic motivation is adaptive. We lay out the helper’s decision problem—determining whether to help another organism. We point out that there are more ways of solving this problem than most people recognize. Specifically, we distinguish two kinds of altruistic motivations, depending on whether a desire to help is produced for one’s own sake or for others’ sake. We identify circumstances in which either kind of psychological altruism provides the most adaptive solution to the helper’s decision problem. As a result, we show that both kinds of psychological altruism are likely to be instantiated and selected for.

Keywords

Egoism Evolution Evolutionary altruism Mechanisms Psychological altruism 

Notes

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

References

  1. Alger, I., & Weibull, J. W. (2013). Homo Moralis; preference evolution under incomplete information and assortative matching. Econometrica, 81(6), 2269–2302.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Barkow, J., Cosmides, L., & Tooby, J. (Eds.). (1992). The adapted mind. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  3. Barrett, H. C. (2015). The shape of thought: How mental adaptations evolve. Oxford: Oxford University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Barrett, L., Dunbar, R., & Lycett, J. (2002). Human evolutionary psychology. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Batson, D. (1991). The altruism question: Toward a social-psychological answer. Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.Google Scholar
  6. Baumard, N., André, J. B., & Sperber, D. (2013). A mutualistic approach to morality. Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 36(1), 59–122.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  7. Bentham, J. (1824). The book of fallacies. London: Hunt.Google Scholar
  8. Birch, J. (2017). The philosophy of social evolution. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  9. Birch, J., & Okasha, S. (2014). Kin selection and its critics. Bioscience, 65(1), 22–32.Google Scholar
  10. Böckler, A., Tusche, A., & Singer, T. (2016). The structure of human Prosociality: Differentiating altruistically motivated, norm motivated, strategically motivated, and self-reported prosocial behavior. Social Psychological and Personality Science, 7(6), 530–541.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Boone, W., & Piccinini, G. (2016). The cognitive neuroscience revolution. Synthese, 193(5), 1509–1534.Google Scholar
  12. Boyd, R., & Richerson, P. (2005). The origin and evolution of cultures. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  13. Brosnan, S. F., & Bshary, R. (2010). Cooperation and deception: From evolution to mechanisms. Phil. Trans. R. Soc. B, 365, 2593–2598.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  14. Brosnan, S. F., & de Waal, F. B. M. (2002). A Proximate Perspective on Reciprocal Altruism. Human Nature, 13(1), 129–152.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  15. Brosnan, S. F., & de Waal, F. B. (2014). Evolution of responses to (un)fairness. Science, 346, 1251776.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  16. Bshary, R., & Raihani, N. J. (2017). Helping in humans and other animals: A fruitful interdisciplinary dialogue. Proceedings of the Royal Society B, 284, 20170929.  https://doi.org/10.1098/rspb.2017.0929.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  17. Buss, D. M. (2014). Evolutionary psychology: The new science of the mind (5th ed.). Boston: Allyn & Bacon.Google Scholar
  18. Chudek, M., Zhao, W., & Henrich, J. (2013). Culture-gene coevolution, large scale cooperation, and the shaping of human social psychology. In K. Sterelny, R. Joyce, B. Calcott, & B. Fraser (Eds.), Cooperation and its evolution (pp. 425–457). Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.Google Scholar
  19. Cialdini, R. B., Brown, S. L., Lewis, B. P., Luce, C., & Neuberg, S. L. (1997). Reinterpreting the empathy-altruism relationship: When one into one equals oneness. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 73(3), 481–494.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  20. Clavien, C. (2011). “Altruistic Emotional Motivation: An Argument in Favour of Psychological Altruism.” in K. Plaisance & T. Reydon (eds.), Philosophy of Behavioral Biology. Boston Studies in Philosophy of Science, Volume 282. Springer, 275–296.Google Scholar
  21. Clavien, C., & Chapuisat, M. (2013). Altruism across disciplines: One word, multiple meanings. Biology and Philosophy, 28(1), 125–140.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Clavien, C., & Chapuisat, M. (2016). The evolution of utility functions and psychological altruism. Studies in the History and Philosophy of the Biological and Biomedical Sciences, 56, 24–31.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. De Dreu, C. K. (2012). Oxytocin modulates cooperation within and competition between groups: An integrative review and research agenda. Hormones and Behavior, 61, 419–428.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  24. de Waal, F. B. M. (2008). Putting the altruism back into altruism: The evolution of empathy. Annual Review of Psychology, 59, 279–300.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  25. Donaldson, Z. R., & Young, L. J. (2008). Oxytocin, vasopressin, and the neurogenetics of sociality. Science, 322, 900–904.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  26. Erev, I., & Roth, A. E. (2014). Maximization, learning, and economic behavior. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 111(10), 818–10 825.Google Scholar
  27. Falk, A., Fehr, E., & Fischbacher, U. (2003). On the nature of fair behavior. Economic Inquiry, 41(1), 20–26.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Fehr, E., & Camerer, C. F. (2007). Social neuroeconomics: The neural circuitry of social preferences. Trends in Cognitive Sciences, 11(10), 419–427.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  29. Fehr, E., & Fischbacher, U. (2003). The nature of human altruism. Nature, 425, 785–791.Google Scholar
  30. Fehr, E., & Gaechter, S. (2000). Fairness and retaliation: The economics of reciprocity. The Journal of Economic Perspectives, 14, 159–181.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Fehr, E., & Schmidt, K. M. (1999). A theory of fairness, competition, and cooperation. The Quarterly Journal of Economics, 114(3), 818–868.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Frank, S. A. (1998). Foundations of social evolution. Princeton: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
  33. Frost, K. (2016). “Coevolutionary Dynamics of Costly Bonding Ritual and Altruism.” doi:  https://doi.org/10.1101/060624.
  34. Gächter, S., Herrmann, B., & Thöni, C. (2010). Culture and cooperation. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B, 365, 2651–2661.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Gardner, A., & West, S. A. (2010). Greenbeards. Evolution, 64(1), 25–38.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  36. Gardner, A., West, S. A., & Wild, G. (2011). The genetical theory of kin selection. Journal of Evolutionary Biology, 24(5), 1020–1043.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  37. Garson, J. (2014). The biological mind: A philosophical introduction. Abingdon: Routledge.Google Scholar
  38. Garson, J. (2016). Two types of psychological hedonism. Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences, 56, 7–14.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  39. Gigerenzer, G., Todd, P. M., & ABC Research Group. (1999). Simple heuristics that make us smart. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  40. Gintis, H. (2003). The Hitchhiker’s guide to altruism: Genes, culture, and the internalization of norms. Journal of Theoretical Biology, 220, 407–418.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  41. Glimcher, P. W., Dorris, M. C., & Bayer, H. M. (2005). Physiological utility theory and the neuroeconomics of choice. Games Econ Behav, 52(2), 213–256.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  42. Gluth, S., & Fontanesi, L. (2016). Wiring the altruistic brain. Science, 351(6277), 1028–1029.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  43. Grafen, A. (2006). Optimization of inclusive fitness. Journal of Theoretical Biology, 238, 541–563.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  44. Greene, J. D. (2013). Moral tribes. London: Penguin.Google Scholar
  45. Greene, J. D., Morrison, I., & Seligman, M. E. P. (2016). Positive Neuroscience. Oxford: Oxford University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Hamilton, W. D. (1964). The genetical evolution of social behaviour. I. Journal of Theoretical Biology, 7(1), 1–16.Google Scholar
  47. Hausfater, G., & Hrdy, S. B. (Eds.). (1984). Infanticide: Comparative and evolutionary perspectives. Chicago: Aldine Transactions.Google Scholar
  48. Hein, G., Morishima, Y., Leiberg, S., Sul, S., & Fehr, E. (2016). The Brain’s functional network architecture reveals human motives. Science, 351(6277), 1074–1078.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  49. Henrich, J. (2015). The secret of our success: How culture is driving human evolution, domesticating our species, and making us smarter. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
  50. Henrich, N., & Henrich, J. (2007). Why humans cooperate: A cultural and evolutionary explanation. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  51. Henrich, J., & McElreath, R. (2007). Dual-inheritance theory: The evolution of human cultural capacities and cultural evolution. In R. Dunbar & L. Barrett (Eds.), The Oxford handbook of evolutionary psychology (pp. 555–570). Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  52. Hobbes, T. (1969). Leviathan, 1651. Menston: Scolar P.Google Scholar
  53. Houston, A. I., & McNamara, J. M. (1999). Models of adaptive behaviour: An approach based on state. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  54. Hutchinson, J. M., & Gigerenzer, G. (2005). Simple heuristics and rules of thumb: Where psychologists and behavioural biologists might meet. Behavioral Processes, 69, 97–124.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. Jensen, K. (2012). Who cares? Other-regarding concerns—Decisions with feeling. In P. Hammerstein & J. R. Stevens (Eds.), Evolution and the mechanisms of decision making (pp. 299–317). Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.Google Scholar
  56. Kalenscher, T., & van Wingerden, M. (2011). Why we should use animals to study economic decision making – A perspective. Frontiers in Neuroscience, 5, 1–11.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. Kandel, E. (2001). The molecular biology of memory storage: A dialogue between genes and synapses. Science, 294(5544), 1030–1038.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  58. Klimecki, O. M. (2015). The plasticity of social emotions. Social Neuroscience, 10(5), 466–473.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  59. Klimecki, O. M., Mayer, S. V., Jusyte, A., Scheeff, J., & Schönenberg, M. (2016). Empathy promotes altruistic behavior in economic interactions. Scientific Reports, 6, 31961.  https://doi.org/10.1038/srep31961.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  60. Kosfeld, M., Heinrichs, M., Zak, P. J., Fischbacher, U., & Fehr, E. (2005). Oxytocin increases trust in humans. Nature, 435(7042), 673–676.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  61. Kurzban, R., Burton-Chellew, M. N., & West, S. A. (2015). The evolution of altruism in humans. Annual Review of Psychology, 66, 575–599.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  62. Kuzdzal-Fick, J. A., Fox, S. A., Strassmann, J. E., & Queller, D. C. (2011). High relatedness is necessary and sufficient to maintain multicellularity in Dictyostelium. Science, 334, 1548–1551.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  63. La Rochefoucauld, F. d. (1691). Moral maxims and reflections, in four parts. London: Gillyflower, Sare, & Everingham.Google Scholar
  64. Morillo, C. (1990). The reward event and motivation. Journal of Philosophy, 87, 169–186.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  65. Nietzsche, F. (1881). The dawn of day. New York: Macmillan.Google Scholar
  66. Northcott, R. & Piccinini, G. (in press). Conceived this way: Innateness defended. Philosophers’ Imprint.Google Scholar
  67. Okasha, S. (2006). Evolution and the levels of selection. Oxford: Oxford University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  68. Packer, C., & Ruttan, L. (1988). The evolution of cooperative hunting. American Naturalist, 132, 159–198.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  69. Queller, D. C. (1985). Kinship, reciprocity and synergism in the evolution of social behavior. Nature, 318(28), 366–367.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  70. Queller, D. C. (1992). Quantitative genetics, inclusive fitness and group selection. American Naturalist, 139, 540–558.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  71. Rachels, J. (2000). Naturalism. In H. LaFollette (Ed.), The Blackwell guide to ethical theory (pp. 74–91). Oxford: Blackwell Publishing.Google Scholar
  72. Rachlin, H. (2002). Altruism and selfishness. Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 25, 239–296.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  73. Raihani, N. J., Pinto, A. I., Grutter, A. S., Wismer, S., & Bshary, R. (2012). Male cleaner wrasses adjust punishment of female partners according to the stakes. Proceedings of the Royal Society B, 279, 365–370.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  74. Ramsey, G. (2016). Can altruism be unified? Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences, 56, 32–38.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  75. Rand, D. (2016). Cooperation, fast and slow: Meta-analytic evidence for a theory of social heuristics and self-interested deliberation. Psychological Science, 27(9), 1192–1206.Google Scholar
  76. Richerson, P., Baldini, R., Bell, A. V., Demps, K., Frost, K., Hillis, V., Mathew, S., Newton, E. K., Naar, N., Newson, L., Ross, C., Smaldino, P. E., Waring, T. M., & Zefferman, M. (2016). Cultural group selection plays an essential role in explaining human cooperation: A sketch of the evidence. Behavioral and Brain Sciences., 39, e30.  https://doi.org/10.1017/S0140525X1400106X.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  77. Rubin, H. (2018). The debate over inclusive fitness as a debate over methodologies. Philosophy of Science, 85(1), 1–30.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  78. Schroder, W. (2000). Continental ethics. In H. LaFollette (Ed.), The Blackwell guide to ethical theory (pp. 375–399). Oxford: Blackwell Publishing.Google Scholar
  79. Schroeder, T. (2004). Three faces of desire. Oxford: Oxford University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  80. Schulz, A. (2011). Sober & Wilson’s evolutionary arguments for psychological altruism: A reassessment. Biology and Philosophy, 26, 251–260.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  81. Schulz, A. (2013). The benefits of rule following: A new account of the evolution of desires. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences, 44(4, part a), 595–603.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  82. Schulz, A. (2016). Altruism, egoism, or neither: A cognitive-efficiency-based evolutionary biological perspective on helping behavior. Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences, 56, 15–23.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  83. Schulz, A. (2017). The evolution of empathy. In H. Maibom (Ed.), Routledge handbook of the philosophy of empathy (pp. 64–73). London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  84. Schulz, A. (2018). Efficient cognition: The evolution of representational decision making. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.Google Scholar
  85. Skyrms, B. (1996). Evolution and the social contract. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  86. Skyrms, B. (2004). The stag hunt and the evolution of social structure. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  87. Soares, M. C., Bshary, R., Fusani, L., Goymann, W., Hau, M., Hirschenhauser, K., & Oliveira, R. F. (2010). Hormonal mechanisms of cooperative behavior. Phil. Trans. R. Soc. B, 365, 2737–2750.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  88. Sober, E. (1999). Psychological egoism. In H. LaFollette (Ed.), The Blackwell guide to ethical theory (pp. 129–148). Oxford: Blackwell.Google Scholar
  89. Sober, E., & Wilson, D. S. (1998). Unto others: The evolution and psychology of unselfish behavior. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  90. Sterelny, K. (2012). The evolved apprentice: How evolution made humans unique. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.Google Scholar
  91. Stevens, J. R., & Hauser, M. D. (2004). Why be nice? Psychological constraints on the evolution of cooperation. Trends in Cognitive Sciences, 8(2), 60–65.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  92. Stich, S. (2016). Why there might not be an evolutionary explanation for psychological altruism. Studies in the History and Philosophy of the Biological and Biomedical Sciences, 56, 3–6.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  93. Stich, S., Doris, J., & Roedder, E. (2010). Altruism. In J. Doris and the moral psychology research group (Ed.), The Moral Psychology Handbook (pp. 147–205). Oxford: Oxford University press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  94. Strassmann, J. E., & Queller, D. C. (2011). Evolution of cooperation and control of cheating in a social microbe. PNAS, 108, 10855–10862.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  95. Strassmann, J. E., Gilbert, O. M., & Queller, D. C. (2011). Kin discrimination and cooperation in microbes. Annual Review of Microbiology, 65, 349–367.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  96. Taylor, P. D., & Frank, S. A. (1996). How to make a kin selection model. Journal of Theoretical Biology, 180, 27–37.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  97. Thomson, E., & Piccinini, G. (2018). Neural representations observed. Minds and Machines, 28(1), 191–235.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  98. Trivers, R. (1974). Parent-offspring conflict. American Zoologist, 14, 247–262.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  99. van Veelen, M. (2009). Group selection, kin selection, altruism, and cooperation: When inclusive fitness is right and when it can be wrong. Journal of Theoretical Biology, 259, 589–600.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  100. West, S. A., Griffin, A. S., & Gardner, A. (2007). Social semantics: Altruism, cooperation, mutualism, strong reciprocity and group selection. Journal of Evolutionary Biology, 20(2), 415–432.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  101. West, S. A., El Mouden, C., & Gardner, A. (2011). Sixteen common misconceptions about the evolution of cooperation in humans. Evolution and Human Behavior, 32(4), 231–262.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  102. Wilson, D. S. (2015). Does altruism exist? Culture, genes, and the welfare of others. New Haven: Yale University Press.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PhilosophyUniversity of Missouri–St. LouisSt. LouisUSA
  2. 2.Department of PhilosophyUniversity of KansasLawrenceUSA

Personalised recommendations