Biology and Philosophy

, Volume 7, Issue 2, pp 161–175 | Cite as

Evolution, altruism, and the prisoner's dilemma

  • Ishtiyaque Haji


I first argue against Peter Singer's exciting thesis that the Prisoner's Dilemma explains why there could be an evolutionary advantage in making reciprocal exchanges that are ultimately motivated by genuine altruism over making such exchanges on the basis of enlightened long-term self-interest. I then show that an alternative to Singer's thesis — one that is also meant to corroborate the view that natural selection favors genuine altruism, recently defended by Gregory Kavka, fails as well. Finally, I show that even granting Singer's and Kavka's claim about the selective advantage of altruism proper, it is doubtful whether that type of claim can be used in a particular sort of sociobiological argument against psychological egoism.

Key words

Altruism evolution Prisoner's Dilemma sociobiology 


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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1992

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ishtiyaque Haji
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PhilosophySimon Fraser UniversityBurnabyBritish Columbia

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