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Friday, March 6, 2015

The Evolution of Altruism

By Oren Harman
The Chronicle of Higher Education
Originally published February 9, 2015

Here is an excerpt:

But if Wilson pulls back from entering the mind, focusing instead on evolutionary dynamics, a cottage industry has grown in recent years around theories purporting to explain how our brains produce empathy, morality, and good will. One recent example comes from Donald W. Pfaff, a professor of neurobiology at Rockefeller University. Stepping, as he says, out of his "comfort zone" studying steroid hormones’ effects on nerve cells in mice, Pfaff argues that recognizing our inborn goodness can add to our capacity for benevolence. "If a person simply realizes that he is wired for good, altruistic behavior and behaves accordingly," he promises, "and if the person toward whom he is about to behave does the same thing, then everything is likely to come out OK." Happily, "science now knows that we are wired to empathize." Really, it isn’t all that complicated.

The entire article is here.