Hey there! Sign in to join this conversationNew here? Join for free
    Offline

    2
    ReputationRep:
    Here's a possible example of altruism, albeit hypothetical:

    If someone were told that they could live a life of poverty in exchange for the happiness of their family and friends, many people would choose to do so.

    Now, this in itself is not altruistic, as making one's family happy in turn benefits oneself by making oneself feel happy.

    However, if the person in question was also told that immediately after making the decision they would forget about everything to do with it, so never know that their friends' and family's happiness is due to their own actions, and instead simply be miserable due to their own life of poverty, they would probably still choose their wellbeing...or at least I would.

    Is this true altruism?
    Offline

    2
    ReputationRep:
    (Original post by DavidH20)
    Here's a possible example of altruism, albeit hypothetical:

    If someone were told that they could live a life of poverty in exchange for the happiness of their family and friends, many people would choose to do so.

    Now, this in itself is not altruistic, as making one's family happy in turn benefits oneself by making oneself feel happy.

    However, if the person in question was also told that immediately after making the decision they would forget about everything to do with it, so never know that their friends' and family's happiness is due to their own actions, and instead simply be miserable due to their own life of poverty, they would probably still choose their wellbeing...or at least I would.

    Is this true altruism?
    I don't think it is true altruism. Before you make the decision you will be thinking of the consequence of your actions and your final decision will still be motivated by the idea that your friends and family will be better off.
    • Section Leader
    Offline

    20
    ReputationRep:
    Section Leader
    (Original post by DavidH20)
    Here's a possible example of altruism, albeit hypothetical:

    If someone were told that they could live a life of poverty in exchange for the happiness of their family and friends, many people would choose to do so.

    Now, this in itself is not altruistic, as making one's family happy in turn benefits oneself by making oneself feel happy.

    However, if the person in question was also told that immediately after making the decision they would forget about everything to do with it, so never know that their friends' and family's happiness is due to their own actions, and instead simply be miserable due to their own life of poverty, they would probably still choose their wellbeing...or at least I would.

    Is this true altruism?
    I considered a similar scenario when I was thinking about it. I concluded that you would know what your choice was going to be (and feel good about it) before (and during) formally making the decision. I couldn't think of any scenario where that wouldn't apply.
    Offline

    10
    ReputationRep:
    One of the best times to assess true altruism is with a lot of people around. My friend did a study where he had to go into a busy shopping centre and drop his shopping bags and see who helped.

    I genuinely think that i wouldn't help if i was a passer by, and i unfortunately would succumb to diffusion of responsibility! Being altruistic is obviously a characteristic that we all would like to think we possess, but the harsh reality is, is that we are selfish people. Evolution has made us that way, but it is not a bad thing at all.

    Weighing up the costs and benefits before helping in a situation, is an important analysis to do and i think if we were all truly altruistic, then there would be consequences.
    Offline

    2
    ReputationRep:
    (Original post by ttreb)
    One of the best times to assess true altruism is with a lot of people around. My friend did a study where he had to go into a busy shopping centre and drop his shopping bags and see who helped.

    I genuinely think that i wouldn't help if i was a passer by, and i unfortunately would succumb to diffusion of responsibility! Being altruistic is obviously a characteristic that we all would like to think we possess, but the harsh reality is, is that we are selfish people. Evolution has made us that way, but it is not a bad thing at all.

    Weighing up the costs and benefits before helping in a situation, is an important analysis to do and i think if we were all truly altruistic, then there would be consequences.
    Even picking up the shopping bag has selfish intent behind it. You pick it up and give it back to the person as you want to commit an altruistic act to make yourself feel good about yourself and for your actions to be recognised by others.

    True altruism cannot evolve since it is evolutionarily unstable. In a hypothetical situation where an entire animal population is altruistic, a selfish mutation might develop. Those animals with the selfish gene will gradually (or maybe quite swiftly) take over the entire population, leading to a population of entirely selfish individuals.
 
 
 
Reply
Submit reply
TSR Support Team

We have a brilliant team of more than 60 Support Team members looking after discussions on The Student Room, helping to make it a fun, safe and useful place to hang out.

Updated: April 4, 2013
  • See more of what you like on The Student Room

    You can personalise what you see on TSR. Tell us a little about yourself to get started.

  • Poll
    Has a teacher ever helped you cheat?
    Useful resources
  • See more of what you like on The Student Room

    You can personalise what you see on TSR. Tell us a little about yourself to get started.

  • The Student Room, Get Revising and Marked by Teachers are trading names of The Student Room Group Ltd.

    Register Number: 04666380 (England and Wales), VAT No. 806 8067 22 Registered Office: International House, Queens Road, Brighton, BN1 3XE

    Write a reply...
    Reply
    Hide
    Reputation gems: You get these gems as you gain rep from other members for making good contributions and giving helpful advice.