Some Obstacles to Altruism

Melvin Konner

in Altruism and Altruistic Love

Published in print April 2002 | ISBN: 9780195143584
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780199848119 | DOI:
Some Obstacles to Altruism

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Natural selection, as Darwin presented it, requires variation, some heritability of the variation, and some differential reproductive success tied to the variation. Notice that it does not require “survival of the fittest” or any other differences in survival. It only requires differences in reproduction. A large part of neo-Darwinian theory has been devoted to a quite successful attack on this puzzle. Reciprocal altruism can evolve in animals that have the ability to recognize and remember whom they have helped and that are longlived enough to be paid back. The Judeo-Christian tradition, like that of most major religions, posits a tendency to evil as more or less inborn. This means there must be a struggle to achieve the good, and that involves moral guidelines and exhortations to be mindful of them.

Keywords: natural selection; survival of the fittest; neo-Darwinian theory; Judeo-Christian; tradition

Chapter.  10501 words. 

Subjects: Social Psychology

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