On the relationship between evolutionary and psychological definitions of altruism and selfishness
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- Wilson, D.S. Biol Philos (1992) 7: 61. doi:10.1007/BF00130164
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I examine the relationship between evolutionary definitions of altruism that are based on fitness effects and psychological definitions that are based on the motives of the actor. I show that evolutionary altruism can be motivated by proximate mechanisms that are psychologically either altruistic or selfish. I also show that evolutionary definitions do rely upon motives as a metaphor in which the outcome of natural selection is compared to the decisions of a psychologically selfish (or altruistic) individual. Ignoring the precise nature of both psychological and evolutionary definitions has obscured many important issues, including the biological roots of psychological altruism.