An example could be our strong tendency to protect children, young ones especially, a bias we share with most other vertebrates. Protecting the children is a sacred cow in almost any human society, even to the expense of adults. From an utilitarian and philosophical point of view, that's entirely debatable since children represent a lower investment of resources compared to a productive adult and are much easier to replace. It's hard to prove that very young children are barely even conscious.
When we understand children as the depositories of their parents genes, the strong moral imperative to save children even at the expense of the parent's own life becomes easier to understand. There's no contradiction between viewing protecting children as the right and moral thing to do, and observing that said morality is indelibly linked to our evolution.
If you make the world a better place, you get to live in a better place. It can be a form of enlightened self interest.
Altruism may improve your environment as well as that of your offspring. Such behavior could be genetically selected for even in species without a big enough brain to have "motives" with known rewards. Cooperation happens in all sorts of creatures.
- donating to the favorite charity of a deceased friend
- donating to a charity whose goals are aligned with your belief system
To me giving to charity is like voting, but with some weight behind it.
Voting is trying to influence the chances that shit happens, while giving money is putting fuel in the machine that makes shit happen.
Ok. “You are wrong.” Reward is a gigantic superset of reputation enhancement.
I'm pretty confident that I'm not a crazy outlier, and that this behavior is mundane and common.
Meaningless questions don't merit serious debate just because they're grammatically coherent. We could come up with any number of questions like this which will yield at least n + 1 opinions for every n people we ask.
Evolution and natural selection suggests that even if you think your desires are purely altruistic, at some deeper level there's always a selfish reason behind them, because otherwise the allegedly-altruistic trait wouldn't have been able to evolve and thrive.
That feeling comes out of finally getting a reward after a reward-motivated behavior.
Which group? My group, my people? Isn't that what divides the society?
This may include say a dog that considers me part of it's group but not a wold looking to eat me. Large groups are so recent in evolutionary terms as to be irrelevant. Nations and companies etc may be exploiting traits benifitial in much smaller group sizes.
Remember cost benifit is non linear, which is why trade for example happens. I might spend more resources than I receive while benefiting more than it costs me.
PS: The article is talking about different degrees of publicity, not nessisarily true anonymity.
Bees cooperate in the hive due to instinct. I doubt many people would attribute their behavior to secret narcissistic desires seeking approval from other bees.
Altruism can exist and even be selected for without psychological motives. That said, there are plenty of people who do such things to send signals deliberately.
There's also the covert contract, which is essentially the belief that by being a "good" person the world will repay you in some way (or overlook your flaws). You can actually satisfy this psychological need by making truly anonymous gestures that are never revealed to anyone.
Beware of people who are always looking for hidden motives, they may just be projecting. ;-) And so might I.
I was going to constuct an argument of how altruism propels societies forward, even benefiting the "weakened" altruistic individuals among it.
But the more important point is that evolution not always finding a global maximum. Some traits that are beneficial, such as empathy, might have weird side effects that nature didn't yet bother to eliminate.
And if it’s not noticeably better, I feel good because I know I tried. A few billion people doing this and we’ll make a lot of progress.
Here's a toy model: self-replicating automatons with no consequence for murder, some automatons murder a percentage of their neighbors' offspring each turn, others do not murder, otherwise they all have the same fertility. Randomly partition the population into two separated groups for a hundred turns, where the two groups have a different incidences of the murdering gene. After the hundred turns, re-combine the two populations, then randomly partition then again.
The murderers will have more surviving offspring within the group, but the group with fewer murderers will grow faster and contribute more genes to the re-combined population. Outcomes are going to depend on specific numbers, and you could make extinction of murderers or extinction of non-murderers more statistically likely.
Danson’s donation is only anonymous to people who might walk into the area, but to anyone that truly matters - to Danson, at least - the donation is not anonymous. Perhaps there is a third dimension here that is being missed?
That's probably why retired billionaires become philanthropists.