The bulletin of mathematical biophysics

, Volume 23, Issue 2, pp 115–134 | Cite as

A contribution to the theory of egoistic and altruistic interactions

  • N. Rashevsky


If two individuals work on the production of the same object of satisfaction and if their cooperative efforts result in an increased overall productivity, then the following statement holds: if each individual tries to maximize his own satisfaction, each individual will have less of the object of satisfaction than when each tries to maximize the sum of the satisfactions of both individuals. This theorem was demonstrated previously for the case of a rather special choice of the satisfaction function. It is now shown that it holds for a much wider class of such functions. In addition to previously studied cases of methods of sharing the object of satisfaction, several new cases are investigated. An attempt is made to give a mathematical formulation for a society in which individuals contribute according to their ability and share according to their needs. It is shown that in order for such a description to be meaningful, certain requirements must be imposed on the satisfaction function. Even with those requirements fulfilled, the possibility of such a society requires the fulfillment of an inequality between certain functionals.


Altruistic Behavior Cooperative Effort Satisfaction Function Collectivistic Society Communist Society 
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Copyright information

© University of Chicago 1961

Authors and Affiliations

  • N. Rashevsky
    • 1
  1. 1.Committee on Mathematical BiologyThe University of ChicagoChicagoUSA

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