The Pros And Cons Of Altruism

794 Words 4 Pages
Evolution and biology are crazy things. Essential we, meaning humans, are products of our evolutionary tract. For example, the fact that humans are social creatures and are loners. Our propensity to gather and connect has major repercussions for the way we learn and interact with our environment. However, can we say that humans have always been social? There exist animals within the animal kingdom that are not social. They tend towards loner habits and attitudes. How did this evolve? Thus one can speculate that the way humans exist today is a result of our evolution and “survival of the fittest” in the terms of biologists where the “fit” are those that reproduce and survival simply implies that you live long enough to reproduce to pass on your …show more content…
Biologists speak of altruism in terms of genetic gains, much like the aforementioned “survival of the fittest” evolutionary explanation accountable for our social nature, a social nature that has great implications for cooperation and altruism. The best example that was spoken of with regards to altruism is the secretary problem presented by William Poundstone. Why would the secretary divide evenly $150, when she would have received $100 if she had chosen not to split the money she would be given. Logic would dictate a different outcome, one where she would not pay a price. Similarly, one can talk about such acts as saving an animal about to get run over or a helping a person that is being mugged. These are all altruistic actions that have no benefit for the person acting, yet clearly benefits the one receiving the action. What could possibly be the appeal in performing such …show more content…
When one performs an altruistic act, one expects that act to be repaid in full later one. They expect to receive an equal act of altruism such that it balances out any risks, or costs, cancel out almost. Once again, why is reciprocal altruism valued in society? What happens if the second party reneges? What if you will never see them again? How will your altruism be repaid? What is the driving force that causes you to act altruistically? Clearly a parallel can be drawn with cooperation as described by the prisoner’s dilemma. Cooperation is not always the beneficial outcome in a “game.” Sometimes, the dominating strategy is to defect, for that is the outcome that benefits the individual the most. However, society values cooperation for whatever reason even if it is not logical. Essentially, the value that is placed upon cooperation is so strong that it overrides everything in nature. However, this statement depends on a variety of factors such as frequency and situation. Nevertheless, the pressure of acting in a reciprocally altruistic fashion is

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