CHAPTER 2
Evidence of altruism

The self-interest perspective reflected in sociobiology is one that has come to be taken for granted as conventional wisdom that is too obvious to be noticed, much less questioned. At least, this has been the case until relatively recently. Over the past couple of decades the obviousness of the self-interest dogma has been questioned from several quarters where it had tended to be all but totally presupposed. In each of the social sciences, rebels have emerged, suggesting that humanity may not be as uniformly and thoroughly characterized by self-interest as had been assumed. In addition to self-interest, there would seem to be indications of genuine altruism that resist transposition into selfishness, except through machinations prompted by the selfinterest dogma itself. In fact, in light of this recent simultaneous questioning from several quarters, it is difficult to determine which is the more surprising phenomenon, the tenacity and thoroughness of the grip that this perspective has held on modern consciousness or the variety and extent of the questioning to which it has rather suddenly become subjected. Consideration of one of the most impressive exhibits of the recent interest in altruism, C. Daniel Batson's experiments purporting to provide empirical evidence of the existence of altruism, provides a striking contrast to the treatment of altruism by sociobiology.


THE SOCIAL SCIENCE BIAS AGAINST ALTRUISM

The ubiquity of the self-interest assumption in social science makes it difficult to document. Perhaps the most direct docu

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