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A study out today has shown that marmosets, like humans, can and do act truly altruistically (see refs). Altruism is a hot topic in evolution. True altruism would, on the face of it, reduce an individual's reproductive fitness, and so you might expect that natural selection would weed out any altruists.
As the Stanford Encylopedia of Philosophy puts it:
... by behaving altruistically an animal reduces its own fitness, so should be at a selective disadvantage vis-à-vis one which behave........ Read more »
Burkart, J., Fehr, E., Efferson, C., & van Schaik, C. (2007) From the Cover: Other-regarding preferences in a non-human primate: Common marmosets provision food altruistically. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 104(50), 19762-19766. DOI: 10.1073/pnas.0710310104
Why would anyone want to be a GP? It's clearly a popular career choice, for reasons both selfish (high earnings and social status) and altruistic (wanting to help the sick and needy). Conventional wisdom has it that religion and altruism are connected, and there are many reasons to suppose that this might be so:
* Altruistic acts may be less altruistic for religious people (they are promised supernatural rewards, and they may also get greater payback from increased status within the commu........ Read more »
Curlin, F., Dugdale, L., Lantos, J., & Chin, M. (2007) Do Religious Physicians Disproportionately Care for the Underserved?. The Annals of Family Medicine, 5(4), 353-360. DOI: 10.1370/afm.677
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