What decides the extent of our altruism?

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Comment by Peter Siecienski on February 19, 2011 at 8:52pm
I feel like it would have to be right in front of me for me to consider it my problem. I would help the child a few streets away and probably a city away because i know I am the only one who could help it and that would tug at my conscience until I did, but unless someone was going around in my face with a collection bin, I probably wouldn't go out of my way to give them my money. I know it's a little heartless, but I rarely even think about negative things unless they're standing in front of me and that classic individualistic thinking that someone else should do it instead of me is always at the back of my mind. I can't even get myself to work out or do my homework, It's really hard to get me to help someone else if I don't even know who they are.
Comment by ryan edge on February 20, 2011 at 2:04am
Comment by ryan edge on February 20, 2011 at 2:17am

Does altruism really exist? To understand this question, you have to look at both extremes. 1st, if the kid is at your doorstep, and you help him out, the chances are high that this 'altruistic' act, will end up helping you out.. The kid owes you, and it would be a bigger burden to not let him live then it would to help him out.

Now, a kid on the other side of the planet, that you will likely never see. If you do send the money, you will likely never see any benefit over the coarse of your lifetime. This kid will likely never no your name, and never help you out down the road..

So.. the likeliness for social payback from someone kinda diminishes the further away the kid gets from you..

This would make sense evolutionarily..

Just my 2 cents.

Comment by Dean Leysen on February 20, 2011 at 9:16am

Peter: yeah, I think that's how it is for almost everyone. It's a very honest answer :)

 

Ryan: I actually think it's not about the kid owing you, but simply about soothing our conscience. It's harder for us to let a child die in front of us than to let it live, because it makes us feel worse. That's not a bad thing either if you ask me, it means that we are naturally altruistic, as long as we are sufficiently aware of and connected to the problem. But the awareness and connection are often lacking. :)

Comment by Charlene Schepens on February 20, 2011 at 9:47am

If the child is on my doorstep or a few blocks away i would help the child, but if i'm not confronted with him/her probably not.

I'd probably addopt it to, i really wanna addopt a child. But we probbably wont get one cause we're too young and we're not "wealthy" enough, we just get arround.

Comment by ryan edge on February 20, 2011 at 9:58am

Yea, I agree. Also for conscience to make sense evolutionarily, it would make sense if it was somehow advantageous to help those in need that have a chance of paying us back.

In the direct sense, yes it's because of how you feel.

But how you feel may be for selfish reasons.

Comment by Dean Leysen on February 21, 2011 at 8:03am

Really cool comments <3

Comment by Daniel Johnson on February 24, 2011 at 6:53am
Well done

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