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Unto Others: A service . . . and a disservice

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Sober and Wilson (1998) render a valuable service by bringing together discussions of evolutionary altruism and psychological altruism. They do a disservice by interpreting the results of experiments designed to test for the existence of psychological altruism as less conclusive than the data warrant. Sober and Wilson claim that new egoistic explanations can account for the existing experimental evidence, but they only offer explanations that have already been ruled out. Insofar as I know, no plausible egoistic explanation currently exists for the experimental evidence that feeling empathy for a person in need evokes altruistic motivation. Unless Sober and Wilson can provide a plausible egoistic explanation for the existing evidence, their ‘inconclusive’ conclusion should be corrected.
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Document Type: Review Article

Affiliations: Department of Psychology, University of Kansas, Lawrence, KS 66045, USA.

Publication date: 2000-01-01

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