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altruismaltruisme (fr.); Altruismus (ger.)

  • 1) Disinterested or selfless concern for the well-being of others, esp. as a principle of action. Opposed to selfishness, egoism, or (in early use) egotism. (OED 2012)  
    social behaviour

    sous le régime positif, une coopération normale et une juste fraternité établiront, entre tous les organes biocratiques, une solidarité conforme à leur commun service du vrai Grand-Être. En un mot, la biocratie et la sociocratie seront également régies par l’altruisme, tandis que l’égoïsme prévalent des deux côtés pendant tout le cours de notre préparation théologique et militaire.

    Comte, A. (1851). Système de politique positive ou traité de sociologie, vol. 1: 619.


    This treatise […] shows how […] the selfish instincts of man lead in their satisfaction to the development of unselfish instincts, how egotism is the impulse to altruism (to use a felicitous phrase coined by Comte).

    Anonymus (1852). Contemporary literature of France. Westminster Review (American Edition) 58, 330-338: 332.


    If we define altruism as being all action which, in the normal course of things, benefits others instead of benefiting self, then, from the dawn of life, altruism has been no less essential than egoism. Though primarily it is dependent on egoism, yet secondarily egoism is dependent on it

    Spencer, H. (1879). The Data of Ethics: 201 (§75).

    Partout où il y a des sociétés, il y a de l’altruisme, parce qu’il y de la solidarité

    Durkheim, É. (1893). De la division du travail social (Paris 1960): 174.
  • 2) Behaviour of an animal that benefits one or more others (typically of its own species), but which carries a cost for the individual concerned. (OED 2012)

    she might have made quite as much of the position enjoyed by the ‘bees’ maiden aunts’ in the hive, as the absolute representatives, not only of the skill and industry, but of the disinterestedness (or as the Comtists horribly nicknamed it, the “altruism,”) of the community

    Anonymus (1874). The neuter bees. Spectator 47, 494-495: 494.


    Altruism […] is just as truly a fundamental biologic factor of evolution as is the cruel, strictly self-regarding, exterminating kind of struggle for existence with which the Neo-Darwinists try to fill our eyes and ears

    Kellogg, V. (1922). Human Life: 57.

    there is ultimately no such thing as biological altruism
    West-Eberhard, M.J. (1975). The evolution of social behavior by kin selection. Quart. Rev. Biol. 50, 1-33: 7.

    how can altruism, which by definition reduces personal fitness, possibly evolve by natural selection? [...]

    Altruism Self-destructive behavior performed for the benefit of others

    Wilson, E.O. (1975). Sociobiology: 3; 578.

    stromg altruism [...] weak altruism
    Wilson, D.S. (1979). Structured demes and trait-group variation. Amer. Nat. 113, 606-610: 608.
    Altruism involves the sacrifice of fitness on the part of a set of individuals (the altruists) in order to increase the fitness of another set of individuals within the group
    Uyenoyama, M. & Feldman, M.W. (1980). Theories of kin and group selection: a population genetics perspective. Theor. Pop. Biol. 17, 380-414: 381.
    Acting in the interest of others at a personal cost in terms of chances of survival and reproduction
    Krebs, J.R. & Davies, N.B. (1981). An Introduction to Behavioural Ecology: 26.

    altruism The situation in which one individual acts to promote or enhance the fitness of an unrelated individual or of other members of a group at the same time reducing its own fitness 


    Lincoln, R.J., Boxshall, G.A. & Clark, P.F. (1982). A Dictionary of Ecology, Evolution and Systematics: 12.


    Evolutionists define altruism as any trait that increases the fitness of others at the expense of the actor’s fitness.

    Wilson, D.S. (1990). Weak altruism, strong group selection. Oikos 59, 135-140: 135.

    Altruismus ohne Moral
    Tugendhat, E. (2000). Moral in evolutionstheoretischer Sicht (in: Aufsätze 1992-2000, Frankfurt/M. 2001, 199-224): 219.