Wednesday, October 19, 2011

The Fragility of Altruism

Live Science Article: Selfless Chimps Shed Light on Evolution of Altruism (Excerpts)
by Charles Q. Choi, Date: 25 June 2007, Time: 06:19 AM ET

"Chimpanzees and such young infants both show that some level of altruism may be innate and not just a factor of education," said developmental and comparative psychologist Felix Warneken at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology at Leipzig, Germany. "People say we become altruistic because our parents teach us so, but that young children are originally selfish. This suggests maybe culture is not the only source of altruism."

"For humans and chimps, selfish and altruistic motives are in competition with each other, and it could be that with chimps, selfish motives have to be pushed far off to the side to make room for altruism. So what distinguishes humans and chimps is not whether or not chimps have altruism but how fragile altruism might be."

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