Testing the Empathy-Altruism Hypothesis against Egoistic Alternatives

Authored by: C. Daniel Batson

The Routledge Companion to Virtue Ethics

Print publication date:  February  2015
Online publication date:  February  2015

Print ISBN: 9780415659338
eBook ISBN: 9780203071755
Adobe ISBN: 9781135096694


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We humans send money to help famine victims halfway around the world. We campaign to save whales and oceans. We stay up all night to comfort a friend with a broken relationship. At times, people will risk—even lose—their lives for others, including strangers. Why do we do these things? What motivates such behavior? Is it true that “The most disinterested love is, after all, but a kind of bargain, in which the dear love of our own selves always proposes to be the gainer some way or other” (la Rochefoucauld, 1691: Maxim 82)? Or are we also capable of altruism?

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