altruism (ăl´trōōĬz´əm), concept in philosophy and psychology that holds that the interests of others, rather than of the self, can motivate an individual. The term was invented in the 19th cent. by the French philosopher Auguste Comte, who devised it as the opposite of egoism. Herbert Spencer and John Stuart Mill, English contemporaries of Comte, accepted the worth of altruism but argued that the true moral aim should be the welfare of society, rather than that of individuals.

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright© 2014, The Columbia University Press.

Altruism: Selected full-text books and articles

The Altruism Question: Toward a Social Psychological Answer
C. Daniel Batson.
Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, 1991
FREE! Altruism: Its Nature and Varieties; the Ely Lectures for 1917-18
George Herbert Palmer.
Charles Scribner's Sons, 1919
Altruism and Christian Ethics
Colin Grant.
Cambridge University Press, 2000
Altruism & Altruistic Love: Science, Philosophy, & Religion in Dialogue
Stephen G. Post; Lynn G. Underwood; Jeffrey P. Schloss; William B. Hurlbut.
Oxford University Press, 2002
The Heart of Altruism: Perceptions of a Common Humanity
Kristen Renwick Monroe.
Princeton University Press, 1996
Explorations in Altruistic Love and Behavior: A Symposium
Pitirim A. Sorokin.
Beacon Press, 1950
The Brighter Side of Human Nature: Altruism and Empathy in Everyday Life
Alfie Kohn.
Basic Books, 1990
Handbook of Evolutionary Psychology: Ideas, Issues, and Applications
Charles Crawford; Dennis L. Krebs.
Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, 1998
Ethics, Rationality, and Economic Behaviour
Francesco Farina; Frank Hahn; Stefano Vannucci.
Oxford University, 1996
The Concept of Morals
W. T. Stace.
Macmillan, 1937
Moral Laws
Edgar Sheffield Brightman.
Abingdon Press, 1933
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