RE: virus: Altruism, Empathy, the Superorganism, and the Priso

Wright, James 7929 (
Mon, 21 Apr 97 09:09:00 EDT

Mark wrote:
<Snip backquotes>
>I think the idea is simply that the concept of altruism is too
>the way it is usually expressed. Most just say that it means putting
>others' needs before your own, but as I think we've covered (whether you
>agree with it or not) they ingore the purely selfish element which may
>underlie many or most apparently selfless acts. For example, someone
>helps or works with the homeless, laudable act, but really only does so
>make themselves feel better. This distinction may well be irrelevant; I
>don't know. But there is an incosistency there nonetheless. Nurses and
>doctors help the injured and sick, but since they draw financial
>compensation does this qualify as altruism? <
I would say not.
>Altruism seems to be one of those warm and fuzzy concepts we're so fond
>"I don't know what it means, but I know it when I see it!" If when I
>a few dollars in the Salvation Army bucket at Christmastime we wish to
>it altruism despite the fact that I'm only assuaging my conscience and
>succumbing to the psychological pressure of that damned bell, fine. But
>think we would be sacrificing accuracy to convenience.<
Very well then, shall we attempt accuracy? I propose:
An act can be considered altruistic when:
1) An act occurs;
2) The consequences or benefits of that act do not confer any advantage
to the actor, their heirs, assigns or acquaintances;
3) The actor does not claim any ownership of the act, beyond simple
knowledge that an act has occurred;
4) The consequences or benefits of that act do not confer any
disadvantage to any other party.
Did I miss anything?