After Summarizing Sober and Wilson’s Evolutionary Argument in Favor of Psychological Altruism, Critically Evaluate This Objection, Including Tiberious’s Response to This Objection
While this criterion is unlikely to do justice to all cases, it is all that is needed for the discussion here (Stich 2007; Sober & Wilson 1998, 217-222; Goldman 1970). Now, a brief look at Sober & Wilson (1998) is enough to make clear that option (A) can be immediately discarded: Sober & Wilson quite clearly do not pretend that their arguments could achieve anything so sweeping as the establishment of the truth of the thesis of psychological altruism. Equally clearly, though, conclusion (E) is advanced by them: they are explicit in noting that they seek to show that evolutionary theory can provide considerations speaking in favour of the truth of altruism – which is all that giving evidence amounts to here (Sober &Wilson 1998, 12). The situation with respect to (M) is more ambiguous, however: while it is nowhere explicitly endorsed, a number of Sober & Wilson’s remarks at least suggest acceptance of it. For these reasons, it seems best to proceed on the assumption that Sober & Wilson accept both (E) and (M).
It could also be the case that there is a failure of rationality among those who are never altruistic or insufficiently altruistic. But it should not be assumed that there must be something else that goes awry in those who are not altruistic or not altruistic enough, beyond the fact that when they ought to have cared about some individual other than themselves, they failed to do so.
Sober E. and Wilson, D. S.: 1998, Unto Others: The Evolution and Psychology of Unselfish Behavior, Harvard University Press, Cambridge, MA.
Batson C. D.: 1991, The Altruism Question: Towards A Social-Psychological Answer, Lawrence
Erlbaum Associates, Hillsdale.
Carey, S.: 1998, Knowledge of Number: Its Evolution and Ontogenesis, Science 242: 641-642.
Goldman A.: 1970, A Theory of Human Action, Prentice-Hall, Princeton.