[lbo-talk] Altruism

c b cb31450 at gmail.com
Thu Aug 11 14:19:28 PDT 2011

// ravi ravi at

> In any case, altruism is basically glorified empathy…

Wilson/Sober offer a pretty good working definition of altruism for use in biology (the rare instance of a useful reduction) as actions that increase the fitness of others (in particular non-kin) at the cost of one’s own fitness.

^^^^^^^ CB: Why does it have to be at the cost of one's own fitness ?

I'm uncomfortable with the idea of individual organisms having fitness. I know this is not a new issue given "the selfish gene" thesis. Darwin's project was answering the question of how species originate. Fitness is a characteristic of species. Species are selected for or against. An individual helping any individual of the same species ( regardless of "kin" closeness or distance) at the expense self-sacrifice is sort of neutral for species fitness

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