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  1. #1
    Who farted? Ka_Jun's Avatar
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    Does genuine altruism exist?

    I say, yes, my best friend asserts that the feeling you get from doing something arbitrarily tagged with the term "good" gets you a "good" feeling, therefore you cannot be truly doing something without any inherent self interest because you are getting something in return. So, does genuine altruism exist?

  2. #2
    Domestic Domestique UnsafeAlpine's Avatar
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    Yes. I'm not looking for that good feeling when I do something good. I do something good because it is the right thing to do. The good feeling I get is just a perk.

  3. #3
    Señor Member USAZorro's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ka_Jun View Post
    I say, yes, my best friend asserts that the feeling you get from doing something arbitrarily tagged with the term "good" gets you a "good" feeling, therefore you cannot be truly doing something without any inherent self interest because you are getting something in return. So, does genuine altruism exist?
    Sure it does, and I be glad to kneecap the contrarian philosopher who comes here to say otherwise, just to prove it's true.

    I can think of plenty of times when people have done nice things for others simply out of habit, or without even thinking about it.
    The search for inner peace continues...

  4. #4
    Avalokiteshvara alanthealan's Avatar
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    No.

  5. #5
    Señor Member USAZorro's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by alanthealan View Post
    No.
    Hey alanthealan. Would you step over here so I can show you something?
    The search for inner peace continues...

  6. #6
    I... Don't care. nekohime's Avatar
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    No, true honest to goodness altruism does not exist because you can always always attribute it to some perk you are getting directly or indirectly. As my social psych professor says, there is always a reason--even in habitual good deeds, you have learned that in the past, doing good deeds makes you feel good, so you continue to do it. However, that doesn't make any sort of good deed less valuable, IMO. Whatever the motive, prosocial behaviors are to be commended.

    *runs away from USAZorro*
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    Quote Originally Posted by AEO View Post
    you should learn to embrace change, and mock it's failings every step of the way :p

  7. #7
    Pwnerer Wordbiker's Avatar
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    I only help little old ladies cross the street if I think they'll put out.
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    Ski, bike and wish I was gay.

  8. #8
    Always Riding
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    It's impossible to know, but I don't think so. Why did "altruism" survive through evolution? Because humans were more likely to survive and reproduce if other humans were around to help them out.

    The problem is that you can come up with any example of an act that you think is altruistic, and someone can come up with an explanation as to why it benefits the person performing the act. For example:

    Quote Originally Posted by USAZorro View Post
    Sure it does, and I be glad to kneecap the contrarian philosopher who comes here to say otherwise, just to prove it's true.

    I can think of plenty of times when people have done nice things for others simply out of habit, or without even thinking about it.
    How did the habit form? Probably because they've done "nice things" in the past and have felt good or been rewarded praise for their acts.

    Essentially what you'd have to do is find a person without feelings and see if that person is altruistic without any kind of outside reward. The closest thing you can probably find is a young autistic child, and I doubt such a child is altruistic without an outside reward. But then people would argue that autism provides other explanations for the non-altruism, so this argument can go on forever.

  9. #9
    Señor Member USAZorro's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by nekohime View Post
    No, true honest to goodness altruism does not exist because you can always always attribute it to some perk you are getting directly or indirectly. As my social psych professor says, there is always a reason--even in habitual good deeds, you have learned that in the past, doing good deeds makes you feel good, so you continue to do it. However, that doesn't make any sort of good deed less valuable, IMO. Whatever the motive, prosocial behaviors are to be commended.

    *runs away from USAZorro*
    That's a very silly thing to do. I can run faster than you.

    I contend that you can be altruistic without being consciously motivated by any reward - which I believe is the correct criteria for evaluating this.
    The search for inner peace continues...

  10. #10
    Ogr8nwmypstmksnosnse pgoat's Avatar
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    It's all semantics, i think. you make someone else smile, you smile. you hurt someone else, you hurt.

    Love = Love
    hate = hate

    you can question seemingly altruistic acts, but why fight them when there is so little of them in the world and so much more are needed?
    Quote Originally Posted by jsharr View Post
    People whose sig line does not include a jsharr quote annoy me.

  11. #11
    Pwnerer Wordbiker's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by pgoat View Post
    you can question seemingly altruistic acts, but why fight them when there is so little of them in the world and so much more are needed?
    For kicks?
    Quote Originally Posted by ahsposo View Post
    Ski, bike and wish I was gay.

  12. #12
    Ogr8nwmypstmksnosnse pgoat's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Wordbiker View Post
    For kicks?
    yes, or money.

    That wasn't very altruistic of either of us
    Quote Originally Posted by jsharr View Post
    People whose sig line does not include a jsharr quote annoy me.

  13. #13
    Immoderator KrisPistofferson's Avatar
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    Unfortunately, those who claim, (however correctly) that there is no true altruism use it as apologetics for extremely heinous things. "I was wrong to dump toxic waste into that river? Well, you got an endorphin high from feeding that homeless person, so I guess neither of us is perfect."

    It leads to some very bizarre mental gymnastics on the part of Republicans and Libertarians, as well as just plain dicks, in others words.

  14. #14
    Crawlin' up, flyin' down bikingshearer's Avatar
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    In the strictest sense, I agree that there is no pure altruism. There is a something in it for the person who does the seemingly selfless act, even if it is just a fleeting sense of doing the proverbial good deed.

    However, I do not think that is a bad thing. In fact, I think it is a good thing. I am a great believer in the power of what some have called "enlightened self-interest." It is one the strongest forces - and possibly the single strongest force - for good and for positive change in the world.

    Example: The Marshall Plan. It definitely had a significant component of self-interest for the US, as Western Europe falling into total economic collapse would not have been a good thing for us. That does not make it any less of a phenominally generous thing that the US did, something no other major power in the history of the world has ever come close to duplicating. Enlightened self-interest; Western Europe benefitted, we benefitted. Good outcome all the way around. (Well, Stalin may not have agreed, but then I don't care much about the blighted ambition of one of the most vicous, murderous thugs the world has ever seen.)
    "I'm in shape -- round is a shape." Andy Rooney

  15. #15
    Ogr8nwmypstmksnosnse pgoat's Avatar
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    well put
    Quote Originally Posted by jsharr View Post
    People whose sig line does not include a jsharr quote annoy me.

  16. #16
    Overacting because I can SpongeDad's Avatar
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    On of the finest individuals I know used to adopt this stance. I think it was a defense mechanism. It's a bit simplistic. Whatever you do, you do because you wanted to do it so the net motivation when you sum up all the pluses and minuses was to act and therefore it wasn't really altruistic.


    Have a kid - altruism can occur without self benefit. More generally, people sacrifice their lives for others and I don't think you can say they were "happy" to do so. A fireman who dies saving someone else isn't devoid of fear, it's just they believe in something bigger than their fear (aka, rational self interest).
    “Courage is going from failure to failure without losing enthusiasm." (Churchill)

    "I am a courageous cyclist." (SpongeDad)

  17. #17
    Señor Member USAZorro's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bikingshearer View Post
    In the strictest sense, I agree that there is no pure altruism. There is a something in it for the person who does the seemingly selfless act, even if it is just a fleeting sense of doing the proverbial good deed.

    However, I do not think that is a bad thing. In fact, I think it is a good thing. I am a great believer in the power of what some have called "enlightened self-interest." It is one the strongest forces - and possibly the single strongest force - for good and for positive change in the world.

    Example: The Marshall Plan. It definitely had a significant component of self-interest for the US, as Western Europe falling into total economic collapse would not have been a good thing for us. That does not make it any less of a phenominally generous thing that the US did, something no other major power in the history of the world has ever come close to duplicating. Enlightened self-interest; Western Europe benefitted, we benefitted. Good outcome all the way around. (Well, Stalin may not have agreed, but then I don't care much about the blighted ambition of one of the most vicous, murderous thugs the world has ever seen.)
    Lawyer... Philosopher...

    Same thing right?

    I'm out camping with the Scouts, and it's cold. I have hand and foot warmers that I'm really appreciating, and I have extras. "Here kid. You want a hand warmer?"

    Someone please show me what selfish consideration motivated my action. Don't sprain your neurons going through the mental gymnastics.
    The search for inner peace continues...

  18. #18
    Who farted? Ka_Jun's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by USAZorro View Post
    Lawyer... Philosopher...

    Same thing right?

    I'm out camping with the Scouts, and it's cold. I have hand and foot warmers that I'm really appreciating, and I have extras. "Here kid. You want a hand warmer?"

    Someone please show me what selfish consideration motivated my action. Don't sprain your neurons going through the mental gymnastics.
    For the sake of argument. I'm a dad. Ever have a kid whine on you? hand/foot warmer loss = prempting whining = self interest. You're welcome.

  19. #19
    Señor Member USAZorro's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ka_Jun View Post
    For the sake of argument. I'm a dad. Ever have a kid whine on you? hand/foot warmer loss = prempting whining = self interest. You're welcome.
    Our Scouts weren't whining. There was a nearby cabin available to them too.
    The search for inner peace continues...

  20. #20
    Banned. timmyquest's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ka_Jun View Post
    I say, yes, my best friend asserts that the feeling you get from doing something arbitrarily tagged with the term "good" gets you a "good" feeling, therefore you cannot be truly doing something without any inherent self interest because you are getting something in return. So, does genuine altruism exist?
    If you define it like that, no.

  21. #21
    Domestic Domestique UnsafeAlpine's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by USAZorro View Post
    Lawyer... Philosopher...

    Same thing right?

    I'm out camping with the Scouts, and it's cold. I have hand and foot warmers that I'm really appreciating, and I have extras. "Here kid. You want a hand warmer?"

    Someone please show me what selfish consideration motivated my action. Don't sprain your neurons going through the mental gymnastics.
    I think they would say it hurts you to see them cold and it makes you happy to see them warm. I don't buy it. I think that because something good can occur to the do-gooder, that, in itself, is not the motivation behind the good deed.

    I have done good things for people and suffered for it. Many people take care of sick loved ones without any benefit and the only outcome, to see them die. If altruism did not exist, why would we continue to do these things? Do I hope a reward will occur each time I do something good? No, I do it because it is the right thing to do.

  22. #22
    Always Riding
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    Quote Originally Posted by SpongeDad View Post
    Have a kid - altruism can occur without self benefit.
    How does a better child not benefit you?

  23. #23
    Señor Member USAZorro's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by LSPlo View Post
    How does a better child not benefit you?
    While this is doubtless true, you're leaping to a conclusion about his motivation.
    The search for inner peace continues...

  24. #24
    Senior Member eric von zipper's Avatar
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    There's no way of knowing. Even if you find what seems to be a sure fire example of pure altruism, we don't know enough about our subconscious.
    Surly Cross Check, Thorn Sherpa

  25. #25
    Crawlin' up, flyin' down bikingshearer's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by USAZorro View Post
    Lawyer... Philosopher...

    Same thing right?
    Well, as much as I'd like to think so . . . . no, not really.

    Quote Originally Posted by USAZorro
    I'm out camping with the Scouts, and it's cold. I have hand and foot warmers that I'm really appreciating, and I have extras. "Here kid. You want a hand warmer?"

    Someone please show me what selfish consideration motivated my action. Don't sprain your neurons going through the mental gymnastics.
    Well, if you're a member of ****** . . . .
    "I'm in shape -- round is a shape." Andy Rooney

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