The Puzzle of Altruism Reconsidered: Biological Theories of Altruism and One-Shot Altruism
AbstractThis paper critically examines the state of the literature in evolutionary biology regarding theories of altruistic behavior. The shared theoretical problems of Kin-selection and Group-selection are examined. Theoretical and severe methodological problems of Reciprocal Altruism theory are also discussed. We offer new conceptual clarifications of the Handicap Principle theory regarding costs and benefits to both the donor and the recipient of an altruistic act. We also summarize supportive empirical studies which demonstrate how Handicap Principle theory easily explains altruistic behavior on a different logic than the one employed by other theories of altruistic behavior. Finally, we discuss the phenomenon of one-shot altruism in order to evaluate, and distinguish between, the predictive and explanatory power of different theories of altruistic behavior.
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Bibliographic InfoPaper provided by The Ratio Institute in its series Ratio Working Papers with number 103.
Length: 27 pages
Date of creation: 06 Sep 2006
Date of revision:
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More information through EDIRC
altruism; altruistic behavior; theories of altruism; handicap principle; reciprocity; reciprocal altruism; group selection; kin selection; one-shot altruism;
Find related papers by JEL classification:
- A12 - General Economics and Teaching - - General Economics - - - Relation of Economics to Other Disciplines
- Z00 - Other Special Topics - - General - - - General
This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:
- NEP-ALL-2006-09-16 (All new papers)
- NEP-CBE-2006-09-16 (Cognitive & Behavioural Economics)
- NEP-EVO-2006-09-16 (Evolutionary Economics)
- NEP-HPE-2006-09-16 (History & Philosophy of Economics)
- NEP-KNM-2006-09-16 (Knowledge Management & Knowledge Economy)
- NEP-SOC-2006-09-16 (Social Norms & Social Capital)
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:
- Eric Alden Smith & Samuel Bowles & Herbert Gintis, 2000. "Costly Signaling and Cooperation," Working Papers 00-12-071, Santa Fe Institute.
- Herbert Gintis, 2000. "Strong Reciprocity and Human Sociality," UMASS Amherst Economics Working Papers 2000-02, University of Massachusetts Amherst, Department of Economics.
- Ernst Fehr & Simon Gaechter, 2003. "Altruistic Punishment in Humans," Microeconomics 0305006, EconWPA.
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