1. We have added a Gift Upgrades feature that allows you to gift an account upgrade to another member, just in time for the holiday season. You can see the gift option when going to the Account Upgrades screen, or on any user profile screen.
    Dismiss Notice

Altruism

Discussion in 'Off-Topic' started by Borachio, Mar 19, 2015.

  1. Borachio

    Borachio Way past lunacy

    Joined:
    Jan 31, 2012
    Messages:
    26,698
    1. So what is it?

    2. Is an altruistic act an act done for the good of others without thought of reward for oneself?

    3. Is a doctor altruistic? Are other health care workers altruistic? Is an MSF doctor altruistic?

    4. Is a real estate developer altruistic? Is a real estate developer who builds a hospital altruistic?

    5. Is a suicide bomber altruistic?

    6. Is a lawyer altruistic? Is a pro bono lawyer altruistic?

    7. Can you perform an altruistic act for others without thought of reward, but still be rewarded and still be considered altruistic?

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Altruism

    8. Are there any truly selfish acts?

    edit:

    9. Are there any truly selfless acts?

    edit2:

    10a. If a person gains anything at all by an altruistic act, is that act no longer considered altruistic?

    10b. If a person hopes to be altruistic, does that mean they must not enjoy whatever it is they are doing altruistically?

    10c. Must a truly altruistic person positively despise being altruistic, then?

    11. Aren't people pretty rubbish at doing things they don't enjoy?
     
  2. El_Machinae

    El_Machinae Colour vision since 2018 Retired Moderator

    Joined:
    Nov 24, 2005
    Messages:
    42,828
    Location:
    Pale Blue Dot youtube=wupToqz1e2g
    I think that altruism is when you spend your resources on someone worse off than you are, instead of yourself. On top of that, simple Natural Selection encourages us to spend preferentially towards our family, so self-sacrifice for family is slightly less altruistic than spending in places even more distant.

    Now, we live in a world where economic trade can lead to win/win situations. In that, I'd rather dispense medical advice and get money and you'd rather get that advice than keep your money. These trades, even when looked at using hindset and increased knowledge, are of net benefit. A person who seeks to have a career in this way is living morally.

    An incredible amount of trade in the modern world doesn't work this way. I slap on an eco-label onto my product to increase sales and I get more money. A conscientious-though-naive person buys it thinking they're being more Earth-friendly. But, in truth, it's just a money transfer. Now, the executive that actually seeks to make a product eco-friendly or forgoes the greenwashing income is behaving 'better' in that they're not just outright fooling people for more money. Is forgoing deception 'altruistic'? Ehn, in some ways. But not enough to get the label.

    If you're getting a 'fair price' for your services, then I'd say it's not being done out of altruism. It then matters how you spend your free time and your income. But, if you deliberately undercharge for your service (that provides a benefit), then it's altruism as well.

    It's not just if you feel you deserve more, but whether you could get more, though.
     
  3. Sommerswerd

    Sommerswerd I never yielded

    Joined:
    Oct 10, 2007
    Messages:
    16,201
    Location:
    Wakanda Forever
    1. This is a good question for a Philosopher. I hope Plotinus weighs in. This is right in his wheelhouse :yup: - Anyway, I think of Altruism in the same way I think of the verb "to love" - unconditionally putting another's wants/needs ahead of your own.

    2. Based on the above, yes

    3. Doctors are not altruistic, generally because they are paid. The same goes for health care workers. An MSF (Doctors without Borders) doctor altruistic might be altruistic, depending on why they are doing it and what benefits they are receiving? If they are getting student loans paid off then no. If they are just doing it to "feel good about themselves" or "help mankind" or something similar, I would say yes.

    4. No, and no. They get paid.

    5. No:confused:

    6. Of course lawyers are altruistic!:D They are the most noble, selfless, downtrodden and misunderstood of all professions... The fact that they get paid is an obvious exception because it just is... It's true:yup:. I think that "saint" is a more accurate description of a pro bono lawyer. :jesus:

    7. Yes

    8. Suicide, for one.
     
  4. BenitoChavez

    BenitoChavez Whispering Walrus

    Joined:
    Dec 19, 2013
    Messages:
    1,851
    Location:
    Alpha Quadrant
    I think there is always some expectation of a reward. At the bare minimum you expect to feel better about yourself knowing that you've done a good deed. I think a better definition would be "An act done for the good of others without the thought of reward from the person/people you helped, or any other 3rd party". So basically anyone getting paid isn't altruistic, like doctors or lawyers (especially lawyers :D). But people who donate time/money to charity, especially if its done anonymously I would consider altruistic.
     
  5. EgonSpengler

    EgonSpengler Doctor of Funk

    Joined:
    Jun 26, 2014
    Messages:
    5,246
    Gender:
    Male
    1. Something done on someone else's behalf, without regard for personal gain.

    2. Yes, although it doesn't preclude getting a reward. I think one can be altruistic and take care of oneself at the same time. In fact, you could say that ensuring your own ability to continue caring for others by providing yourself the essentials of life is part of caring for others.

    3 & 4 & 6. She could be. Often, we don't know one way or the other. If a healthcare worker is providing service free of charge, then we can say with that altruism could be a factor (she could be a student gaining experience instead of pay, or fulfilling some obligation, or something else - money isn't the only reward people seek). Conversely, there are some cases where we can say that a person is clearly acting selfishly. Most of the time, we can't tell, and must choose to be trusting or skeptical.

    5. Altruism is not mutually-exclusive of mania or delusion. A schizophrenic might think God personally directed her to dedicate her life to teaching blind orphans.

    7. Yes. In our society, everybody needs money for the essentials of life. We don't have a good mechanism for providing for a firefighter or a physician who treats dangerous patients, other than to pay them. Other rewards are possible too, like public esteem, or special treatment or benefits.

    8. Certainly. And some would say this isn't a bad thing. Western society is partly founded on the notion that everybody is innately self-interested. Some people think we don't pursue that idea far enough. Ayn Rand believed that altruism was evil, and she still has fans.
     
  6. Narz

    Narz keeping it real

    Joined:
    Jun 1, 2002
    Messages:
    27,144
    Location:
    St. Petersburg, Florida
    Caring about others.

    Never. There's always a reward for oneself, brain research shows this, being nice in certain circumstances gives an emotional high.

    Doctors get paid exceedingly well. A teacher maybe (a good teacher not a typical one).

    Hospitals are full of corruption, parting people with more money than just about any other institution. They may help/house sick people in an emergency but I don't think we should fetishizing the medical industry as a model in altruism. The medical industry is an industry & makes tons of money separating fools from their money (especially old fools beginning to suffer from dementia, think $10,000 daily hospital visits, etc.)

    72 virgins.

    Case by case baby. Besides, lawyers aren't human. ;)

    There's always a reward whether internal or external.

    You are a true friend, even more than Google! :love:

    Of course. Theft for one. Although even most thieves probably share the wealth. Rape maybe, no one can share the 'wealth' of stolen sex. Any crimes that remain secret. How can anyone else prosper from them if no one else even knows?
     
  7. Valka D'Ur

    Valka D'Ur Hosting Iron Pen in A&E Retired Moderator

    Joined:
    Mar 3, 2005
    Messages:
    22,427
    Gender:
    Female
    Location:
    Red Deer, Alberta, Canada
    Rape maybe? MAYBE??? How can rape NOT be a truly selfish act? :eek:


    Regarding theft: Lacking other resources and the situation was imminently dire, would you steal to ensure that your daughter would survive? Would you consider that a selfish act?
     
  8. El_Machinae

    El_Machinae Colour vision since 2018 Retired Moderator

    Joined:
    Nov 24, 2005
    Messages:
    42,828
    Location:
    Pale Blue Dot youtube=wupToqz1e2g
    I think the OP makes more sense if that last question is 'selfless'. If so, sometimes I act generously in order to relieve guilt or because my empathy hurts. Other times it's because it actually makes me feel good
     
  9. Timsup2nothin

    Timsup2nothin Veteran of 1000 psycic wars

    Joined:
    Apr 2, 2013
    Messages:
    36,808
    Location:
    Where the winds of limbo roar
    To paraphrase a great line from a movie I saw yesterday;

    Altruism is planting a tree you won't live long enough to sit in the shade of.
     
  10. NetGear

    NetGear King

    Joined:
    Dec 11, 2002
    Messages:
    729
    1. http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Price_equation

    5. Id like to think the crazy redneck guy from the movie independence day as heroic, or even altruistic and all that blah blah, so its possible. Considering he could be considered a suicide bomber from an alien perspective.
     
  11. onejayhawk

    onejayhawk Afflicted with reason

    Joined:
    Jul 6, 2002
    Messages:
    13,367
    Location:
    next to George Bush's parents
    2. Is an altruistic act an act done for the good of others without thought of reward for oneself?

    The key word here is "thought". If reward is not a part of the decision process, then it would fit the standard. It is irrelevant if it produces an endocrine rush.

    J
     
  12. Sommerswerd

    Sommerswerd I never yielded

    Joined:
    Oct 10, 2007
    Messages:
    16,201
    Location:
    Wakanda Forever
    I agree, but that has me thinking... If one pays a Dominatrix to tie him up and spank his bottom... Well you aren't getting any "reward" at all, just "punishment" but you are helping the dominatrix because she gets money, and also, maybe she enjoys spanking you, so it makes her happy. All you get is an endorphin rush, and that warm tingly feeling, with some humiliation mixed in right? :spank:

    So isn't that altruism?:mischief:
     
  13. Crackerbox

    Crackerbox King

    Joined:
    Feb 25, 2015
    Messages:
    721
    Altruism is so self-evident that we need not wring our hands to ponder the necessity of doing it.

    Link to video.

    Link to video.

    It's not a Spiritual Mission or a Secular Mission, but an Mission of Altruism to care for our Brothers and Sisters. While you argued about the necessity of altruism, thousands died of thirst and contaminated water leading to multiple disease states. :rolleyes:
     
  14. Borachio

    Borachio Way past lunacy

    Joined:
    Jan 31, 2012
    Messages:
    26,698
    Well, naturally that's the corollary. But I was trying to drive the debate out of the box.

    Maybe I wasn't successful.

    I think I could attempt to defend the position that no act is truly 100% selfish, but I fancy it would be a very unpopular position (judging by the responses so far).

    So I don't think I will.

    And in the interests of completeness:

    9. Are there any truly selfless acts?

    (which I shall edit into the OP)
     
  15. Crackerbox

    Crackerbox King

    Joined:
    Feb 25, 2015
    Messages:
    721

    Link to video.
    While people argue about the impetus of altruism, the reality is it's both sacred and secular. Witness the sacred beginnings of Heifer Internation to become a secular one.

    It's practical ways to eliminate poverty, one family at a time, with no benefit to the giver whatsoever. It's being a human being because it's our responsibility to care for our Brother and Sister.

    Is the meaning of being a human being about the Self? NOPE. Obviously true meaning is found corporately in Others and in that journey we encounter our true Self who is joined with the Others.

    All sin comes from Pride of the Self. We miss the mark that GOD intended for us. We are to deny our SELF. The last shall become the first and the first shall become the last.

    Even if you don't believe this, it doesn't matter. Altruism is the greatest necessity for each member of civilization. The Other doesn't want a handout. The Other wants the ability to raise themselves up within a community of self-supporting members.

    Altruism isn't about feeling good. It's as essential as drinking water and eating. Altruism is at the heart of being a human being.
     
  16. Borachio

    Borachio Way past lunacy

    Joined:
    Jan 31, 2012
    Messages:
    26,698
    I don't think I agree. I don't think it's our responsibility to do so, necessarily. I think it's in our best interests to do so.

    We simply don't live separate from each other. Even though it sometimes seems that we do.

    Maybe?
     
  17. El_Machinae

    El_Machinae Colour vision since 2018 Retired Moderator

    Joined:
    Nov 24, 2005
    Messages:
    42,828
    Location:
    Pale Blue Dot youtube=wupToqz1e2g
    Well, there's also rational acts that seem altruistic. Or, they're hard to DO because they seem altruistic. During the early stages of the Ebola crisis, the rational act was to flood the region with aid so that people would rush into quarantine and cause it to burn out more quickly. This was way better than the path that most people chose, where they crossed their fingers and hoped that the government-imposed travel restrictions would contain the disease. The net drops in trade (and the net decrease in human rights) could easily have cost vastly more than the cost of funding MSF early.
     
  18. Crackerbox

    Crackerbox King

    Joined:
    Feb 25, 2015
    Messages:
    721
    The health workers on the ground who tried in vain to alleviate the suffering of the Ebola patient and their caregivers wasn't about rational thought. It was about love and tenderness because those people are their Brothers and Sisters.

    When every other volunteer health worker pulled out, Shepherd's Purse workers stayed there as long as possible, even coming down with Ebola themselves.

    Link to video.
    The volunteer for Doctors Without Borders isn't there because of Reason, they're doing it out of Altruism.

    Link to video.

    These aren't physicians and medical team members going into Liberia such to maintain global trade! They're volunteers who pay to go there and make literally nothing, often donate and donate and donate selflessly to save their Brothers and Sisters.
     
  19. Narz

    Narz keeping it real

    Joined:
    Jun 1, 2002
    Messages:
    27,144
    Location:
    St. Petersburg, Florida
    Maybe was probably misused, there is probably some crazy hypothetical where it wouldn't be (some madmen forces you to have sex with a person or he kills both of you) but yeah, its about as purely selfish an act as I can think of.

    Theft is much trickier. Forget life & death, even in a non 'do or die' type situation I'd say stealing from a large corporation like Walmart morally ambiguous. Stealing some meat might even push towards morally positive considering how atrocious the slaughterhouse industry is. In a perfect world theft would always be wrong of course but the world is far from fair.
     
  20. Narz

    Narz keeping it real

    Joined:
    Jun 1, 2002
    Messages:
    27,144
    Location:
    St. Petersburg, Florida
    Which movie?

    Talking of trees & altruism, there's a company that plants a tree thats fed by your dead body, I think its genius. Graveyards are such a waste, sucking up resources & wasting useful land even after death is just awful (when I write a will I will mention I never want to end up with a gravestone).
     

Share This Page