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altruisticaltruistique (fr.); altruistisch (ger.)

  • Actuated by regard for the well-being of others; benevolent. (OED 2011)
    social behaviour altruism

    The noble termination of the emotional series by the group of social or altruistic instincts.

    Lewes, G.H. (1853). Comte’s Philosophy of the Sciences: 221.


    I exclude from this question those generous acts which do not appear to the actor to conflict with self-interest. These may be termed sympathetic acts, and are quite distinct from the altruistic. The sympathetic actions are seen at times in most animals. The altruistic acts, on the other hand, are those that express what is usually called “moral principle.”

    Cope, E.D. (1880). A review of the modern doctrine of evolution (Concluded). American Naturalist 14, 260-271: 269.


    If this change in the Artemisia root is an adaptation, it is an adaptation for the Orobranche and not for itself, and what adaptationist could expect a plant to be so altruistic as all this?

    Cowles, H.C. (1909). The trend of ecological philosophy. American Naturalist 43, 356-368: 360.

    It can be shown mathematically that in general qualities which are valuable to society but usually shorten the lives of their individual possessors tend to be extinguished by natural selection in large societies […]. But psychologists are perhaps right in regarding social life as an extension of family life […]. For in so far as it makes for the survival of one’s descendants and near relations, altruistic behaviour is a kind of Darwinian fitness, and may be expected to spread as the result of natural selection
    Haldane, J.B.S. (1932). The Causes of Evolution: 131.
    Altruistic behavior can be defined as behavior that benefits another organism, not closely related, while being apparently detrimental to the organism performing the behavior, benefit and detriment being defined in terms of contribution to inclusive fitness
    Trivers, R.L. (1971). The evolution of reciprocal altruism. Quart. Rev. Biol. 46, 35-57: 35.
    Altruistic social behavior is that in which an animal enhances the productivity [i.e., fitness] of another individual (in its colony) at the expense of its own productivity
    Lin, N. & Michener, C.D. (1972). Evolution in social insects, Quart. Rev. Biol. 47, 131-159: 133.
    An entity, such as a baboon, is said to be altruistic if it behaves in such a way as to increase another such entity’s welfare at the expense of its own. Selfish behavior has exactly the opposite effect. ›Welfare‹ is defined as ›chance of survival‹
    Dawkins, R. (1976). The Selfish Gene: 4.
    When an actor’s behavior increases a recipient’s direct fitness at the expense of the actor’s direct fitness, the behavior is altruistic. When an actor’s behavior increases a recipient’s direct fitness and also increases the actor’s direct fitness, the behavior is cooperative
    Wittenberger, J.F. (1981). Animal Social Behavior: 76.
    An altruistic trait reduces the fitness of organisms that possess it while benefitting the group in which it occurs
    Sober, E. & Wilson, D.S. (1994). A critical review of philosophical work on the units of selection problem. Philos. Sci. 61, 534-555: 535.
    [Altruistic] behavior increases the fitness of the group and decreases the relative fitness […] within the group
    Sober, E. & Wilson, D.S. (1998). Unto Others: 143.