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In this paper, I will defend a communitarian perspective on the so-called “hinge propositions” (hinges, for short). Accordingly, I will argue that hinges play a normative role, in the sense that, among other things, they govern the mechanisms of social inclusion/exclusion. In particular, I will examine the so-called “religious hinges”; and I will argue that such hinges, being the product of mere indoctrination, are particularly effective in shaping boundaries among communities. Finally, with the help of Peter Munz's theory of altruism, I will attempt to explain why religious hinges play the role they do.
Subjects donate individually (control group) or in pairs (treatment group). Those in pairs reveal their donation decision to each other. Average donations in the treatment group are significantly higher than in the control group. Paired subjects have the opportunity to revise their donation decision after discussion. Pair members shift toward each others’ initial decisions. Subjects are happier with their decision when their donations are larger, but those in pairs are less happy, controlling for amount donated. These findings suggest reluctant altruism due to peer pressure in charitable giving.
When evaluating a charity by itself, people tend to overweight overhead costs in relation to cost-effectiveness. However, when evaluating charities side by side, they base their donations on cost-effectiveness. I conducted a replication and extension of Caviola et al. (2014; Study 1) using a 3 (High Overhead/Effectiveness, Low Overhead/Effectiveness, Both) x 2 (Humans, Animals) between-subjects design. I found that the overhead ratio is an easier attribute to evaluate than cost-effectiveness in separate evaluation, and, in joint evaluation, people allocate donations based on cost-effectiveness. This effect was observed for human charities, and to a lesser extent, for animal charities.
We argue that people choosing prosocial distribution of goods (e.g., in dictator games) make this choice because they do not want to disappoint their partner rather than because of a direct preference for the chosen prosocial distribution. The chosen distribution is a means to fulfil one’s partner’s expectations. We review the economic experiments that corroborate this hypothesis and the experiments that deny that beliefs about others’ expectations motivate prosocial choice. We then formulate hypotheses about what types of expectation motivate someone to do what is expected: these are justifiable hopeful expectations that are clearly about his own choices. We experimentally investigate how people modulate their prosociality when they face low or unreasonably high expectations. In a version of a dictator game, we provide dictators with the opportunity to modulate their transfer as a function of their partner’s expectations. We observe that a significant portion of the population is willing to fulfil their partner’s expectation provided that this expectation expresses a reasonable hope. We conclude that people are averse to disappointing and we discuss what models of social preferences can account for the role of expectations in determining prosocial choice, with a special attention to models of guilt aversion and social esteem.
In the COVID-19 pandemic, people’s dwellings suddenly became a predominant site of economic activity. We argue that, predictably, policy-makers and employers took the home for granted as a background support of economic life. Acting as if home is a cost-less resource that is free for appropriation in an emergency, ignoring how home functions as a site of gendered relations of care and labour, and assuming home is a largely harmonious site, all shaped the invisibility of the imposition. Taking employee flexibility for granted and presenting work-from-home as a privilege offered by generous employers assumed rapid adaptation. As Australia emerges from lockdown, ‘building back better’ to meet future shocks entails better supporting adaptive capabilities of workers in the care economy, and of homes that have likewise played an unacknowledged role as buffer and shelter for the economy. Investing in infrastructure capable of providing a more equitable basis for future resilience is urgent to reap the benefits that work-from-home offers. This article points to the need for rethinking public investment and infrastructure priorities for economic recovery and reconstruction in the light of a gender perspective on COVID-19 ‘lockdown’ experience.
We test in the context of a dictator game the proposition that individuals may experience a self-control conflict between the temptation to act selfishly and the better judgment to act pro-socially. We manipulated the likelihood that individuals would identify self-control conflict, and we measured their trait ability to implement self-control strategies. Our analysis reveals a positive and significant correlation between trait self-control and pro-social behavior in the treatment where we expected a relatively high likelihood of conflict identification—but not in the treatment where we expected a low likelihood. The magnitude of the effect is of economic significance. We conclude that subtle cues might prove sufficient to alter individuals’ perception of allocation opportunities, thereby prompting individuals to draw on their own cognitive resources to act pro-socially.
We describe the “evaluability bias”: the tendency to weight the importance of an attribute in proportion to its ease of evaluation. We propose that the evaluability bias influences decision making in the context of charitable giving: people tend to have a strong preference for charities with low overhead ratios (lower administrative expenses) but not for charities with high cost-effectiveness (greater number of saved lives per dollar), because the former attribute is easier to evaluate than the latter. In line with this hypothesis, we report the results of four studies showing that, when presented with a single charity, people are willing to donate more to a charity with low overhead ratio, regardless of cost-effectiveness. However, when people are presented with two charities simultaneously—thereby enabling comparative evaluation—they base their donation behavior on cost-effectiveness (Study 1). This suggests that people primarily value cost-effectiveness but manifest the evaluability bias in cases where they find it difficult to evaluate. However, people seem also to value a low overhead ratio for its own sake (Study 2). The evaluability bias effect applies to charities of different domains (Study 3). We also show that overhead ratio is easier to evaluate when its presentation format is a ratio, suggesting an inherent reference point that allows meaningful interpretation (Study 4).
A prosocial action typically provides a more sizable benefit when directed at those who have less as opposed to those who have more. However, not all prosocial acts have a direct bearing on socioeconomic disadvantage, nor does disadvantage necessarily imply a greater need for the prosocial outcome. Of interest here, welfare impact may depend on the number of beneficiaries but not on their socioeconomic status. Across four preregistered studies of life-saving decisions, we demonstrate that when allocating resources, many people are benevolently partial. That is, they choose to help the disadvantaged even when this transparently implies sacrificing lives. We suggest that people construct prosocial aid as an opportunity to correct morally aversive inequalities, thus making relatively more disadvantaged recipients a more justifiable target of help. Benevolent partiality is reduced when people reflect beforehand on what aspects they will prioritize in their donation decision.
The opportunity to tell a white lie (i.e., a lie that benefits another person) generates a moral conflict between two opposite moral dictates, one pushing towards telling the truth always and the other pushing towards helping others. Here we study how people resolve this moral conflict. What does telling a white lie signal about a person’s pro-social tendencies? To answer this question, we conducted a two-stage 2x2 experiment. In the first stage, we used a Deception Game to measure aversion to telling a Pareto white lie (i.e., a lie that helps both the liar and the listener), and aversion to telling an altruistic white lie (i.e., a lie that helps the listener at the expense of the liar). In the second stage we measured altruistic tendencies using a Dictator Game and cooperative tendencies using a Prisoner’s dilemma. We found three major results: (i) both altruism and cooperation are positively correlated with aversion to telling a Pareto white lie; (ii) both altruism and cooperation are negatively correlated with aversion to telling an altruistic white lie; (iii) men are more likely than women to tell an altruistic white lie, but not to tell a Pareto white lie. Our results shed light on the moral conflict between prosociality and truth-telling. In particular, the first finding suggests that a significant proportion of people have non-distributional notions of what the right thing to do is, irrespective of the economic consequences, they tell the truth, they cooperate, they share their money.
Recent research on charitable donations shows that donors evaluate both the impact of helping and its cost. We asked whether these evaluations were affected by the context of alternative charitable causes. We found that presenting two donation appeals in joint evaluation, as compared to separate evaluation, increased the perceived benefit of the cause ranked as more important (Study 1), and decreased its perceived cost, regardless of the relative actual costs (Study 2). Finally, we try to reconcile an explanation based on perceived cost and benefit with previous work on charitable donations.
This chapter argues that Darwin's thought plays a central role in the history of the conscience and that the history of the conscience plays a central role in Darwin's thought. A core project of his later works is to show how the human moral faculties could have evolved, since such a faculty seemed to pose a decisive objection to the theory of natural selection. But the theory of group selection Darwin developed to explain the origins of morality had the inadvertent effect of inducing skepticism about instinctive moral feeling. Such skepticism transformed Western moral thought: although appeals to moral “intuitions” and naturalistic theories of ethics would return, after Darwin's analysis of the conscience never again could the bare fact of moral feeling offer evidence of the divine design of humanity. In ways thinkers are still considering, Darwin forced moral philosophy to confront its fundamental earthliness.
Although largely accepted in animal biology, sociobiology has proven to be a controversial model for explaining human behavior. Nowadays sometimes termed ‘behavioral ecology’, the application of biological models to human behavior has the potential to explain a wide array of human instincts and actions. This chapter reviews the models for such putative human universals as violence, sexual reproduction strategies, coalition-building, and altruism, and compares them with similar models applied to animals. It also emphasizes that environment and culture provides critical influences on the ultimate expression of behavior: for example, across societies, mate preferences are partially mediated by society’s economic opportunities, so that culture can act as a buffer for underlying biological instincts. Since this topic is controversial, the chapter review the historical antecedents, starting with Plato’s theory of universals, through John Locke’s Enlightenment ideal, the ‘tabula rasa’, to Margaret Mead and Napoleon Chagnon in modern anthropology. Much of this debate has an underlying moral element, so the chapter discusses the naturalistic fallacy and point out the fact that our morality need not be determined in any way by potential evolutionary influences on instincts or behaviors. However, it also notes the potential logical pitfalls of treating humans as ‘special case’ animals.
The concern in this chapter is the “principle” of solidarity in the context of “state” action at EU level. The role of the “state” in promoting solidarity is twofold: first to support and encourage solidarity through autonomous institutions (trade unions) and processes (collective bargaining, collective action, and social dialogue); and second to initiate and develop through “state” institutions its own solidarity measures and programs. The concern has also been to explore and examine that “principle” of solidarity in the context of proposals for renewing the “social contract,” highlighting different conceptions of the social contract, but focusing mainly on that proposed by the ETUC. It is argued, however, that there are both constitutional and institutional problems in relation to EU support for a social contract of this kind, these problems relating to an over-rigid economically liberal constitution and a weak political program in the form of the Social Pillar, both of which predate COVID-19, and both of which seem ill-equipped to meet the challenges presented by the pandemic.
Ecolabeled green buildings can have a diverse array of characteristics. Their superior environmental performance can include things like energy efficiency or water efficiency; using cleaner and lower carbon energy sources; sourcing construction materials with sustainable practices; or site selection for the buildings so as to reuse and rehabilitate brownfields or encourage use of public transportation or bicycles. The multidimensional nature of “greenness” for green building is an essential feature of these ecolabels and the Green Building Movement more broadly. The holistic approach to greener buildings embraces flexibility, diversity, and innovation over strictly prescriptive or one-size-fits-all approaches. In this chapter we unpack the diversity of green buildings using attributes such as the publicness and the private marketing benefits of an organization’s ecolabeling strategy to provide improved understanding of the manner in which firms certify green. Green building strategies are classified as altruist, pragmatist, green club, and greenwash. By providing better understanding of green building strategies, our understanding of sustainability strategies by firms and organizations is enhanced.
Why does human cooperation often unravel in economic experiments despite a promising start? Previous studies have interpreted the decline as the reaction of disappointed altruists retaliating in response to non-altruists (Conditional Cooperators hypothesis). This interpretation has been considered evidence of a uniquely human form of cooperation, motivated by an altruistic concern for equality (‘fairness’) and requiring special evolutionary explanations. However, experiments have typically shown individuals not only information about the decisions of their groupmates (social information) but also information about their own payoffs. Showing both confounds explanations based on conditional cooperation with explanations based on confused individuals learning how to better play the game (Confused Learners hypothesis). Here we experimentally decouple these two forms of information, and thus these two hypotheses, in a repeated public-goods game. Analysing 616 Swiss university participants, we find that payoff information leads to a greater decline, supporting the Confused Learners hypothesis. In contrast, social information has a small or negligible effect, contradicting the Conditional Cooperators hypothesis. We also find widespread evidence of both confusion and selfish motives, suggesting that human cooperation is maybe not so unique after all.
During a public health crisis, preventive measures are essential. However, to make them effective, all citizens must be engaged.
To analyse the differential role of individual and contextual variables in the adherence to public health recommendations.
1376 adults (70.5% female; mean age=35.55±14.27) completed a survey between September/2020 and May/2021 with: Adherence Scale to the Recommendations during COVID-19
(ASR-COVID19; evaluates three dimensions of adherence), Fear of Covid-19 Scale (FC19S) and Toronto and Coimbra Prosocial Behaviour Questionnaire (ProBeQ; assesses empathy and altruism).
Adherence did not differ between individuals with or without personal or family history of COVID-19 infection. ASR-COVID19 and all dimensions were positively correlated to ProBeQ’s altruism and empathy (from r=.32 to r=.54); FCV19S correlated positively to total adherence score and house sanitation (from r=.18 to r=.26; all p<.01). Linear regressions revealed that altruism and empathy (first model), as well as fear of Covid-19 (second model), were significant predictors of adherence; however, while the first model explained ≅28% of its variance, the second (FCV19S as independent variable) only explained ≅3%. Regression models performed in a subsample of participants with personal or family history of COVID-19 revealed that only empathy, but not altruism, was a significant predictor of adherence; in this subsample, fear was no longer a significant predictor of adherence, except for lockdown and use of teleservices.
Based on our results, we suggest health care providers and public health campaigns should take into consideration social solidarity and altruism, as well as previous experiences, when appealing to public’s engagement in health behaviour.
In the following interview, philosophers Leonard Fleck and Arthur Ward discuss the latter’s recent experience of being a nondirected kidney donor. The interview took place in the Center for Bioethics and Social Justice at Michigan State University.
Inclusive fitness theory provides explanations for many cooperative behaviors – particularly among kin – that enhance one’s likelihood of reproductive fitness. In short, any allele responsible for cooperative social behaviors may be naturally selected if its possessor were able to reproduce more frequently than other members of the same species who do not possess that allele (i.e., those who possess a competing allele). Since the inception of inclusive fitness theory, evolutionary scientists have hypothesized various mechanisms and behaviors that could be the product of specific naturally selected genes. These mechanisms include kin recognition, kin selection, parental investment, parent–offspring conflict, sexual and emotional jealousy, and aggression. Inclusive fitness theory is also one of the most widely misunderstood theories in evolutionary psychology. In this chapter, we describe inclusive fitness theory and expand upon these mechanisms by reviewing various studies within the evolutionary psychological literature, while also addressing the key misunderstandings of inclusive fitness theory.
Organisms carry a large number of adaptive traits, i.e., traits that enable them to obtain resources and acquire sex partners from their social, biotic, and abiotic environments, and escape the negative factors of these environments. When we recognize an adaptive trait, we typically assume that it is a product of some form of selection, either of natural selection sensu stricto (environmental selection, as, for example, legs and eyes), sexual selection (e.g., antlers or peacock tail), or parental selection (e.g., the colorful interior of the beak of altricial birds’ nestlings). In many cases, the attribution of a biological function to the trait is simple and straightforward. However, even in such cases, we can be wrong – a particular trait could be an exaptation rather than an adaptation or it could be a by-product of processes other than selection. Sometimes we are not able to recognize what function a trait has for its bearer. The trait, including a behavioral pattern, can be a product of the manipulative activity of a biological entity other than the entity we suspect, usually another member of its species or a parasite. Besides, many traits are products of the organism’s own genes but help to spread their own copies at the expense of the biological fitness, viability, or fecundity of their carrier. A trait can also be a product of a different selection process. A trait might be a product of group selection or species selection, for example. Certain complex traits evolved only to keep an old biological adaptation in a functional state, not to evolve a new useful adaptation. And, finally, a trait can fulfill a function that was useful for the ancestors of the present organism but is not useful for the organisms that we study now. Similarly, a particular trait can be useful under special and rare conditions that are unknown to or otherwise not taken into consideration by the researcher.
This article examines notions of hedonism, altruism and conscience in relation to the activity of four neurotransmitter pathways: the dopamine reward, noradrenaline fight or flight, serotonin calming and glutamine learning pathways. Associated brain areas that modulate behaviour are highlighted: the prefrontal cortex (activity planning, risk mitigation), the hippocampus (memory retrieval) and the insular cortex (integration of information to decide on action). Putative epigenetic changes influencing adult behaviours after childhood privation are discussed. Pharmacological and psychological means of mitigating harmful behaviours are summarised, alongside the ethics of epigenetic screening to predict future addictive and violent tendencies.