Evolutionary psychology studies the human’s nervous system such as brain structure, and individual behavioral differences. It studies the psychological adaptations that humans face regarding to the changes in physical and social environment. Evolutionary psychology tries to explain why humans act the way they do. It tries to find out problems that our ancestors’ face and how it became the way it is today. One of the ideas evolved in evolutionary psychology is the theory of altruism.
Altruism is the selfless concern for the benefits of others. Social psychologists refer altruism as one of the aspects of pro-social behavior. Pro-social behavior refers to any action that benefits others, no matter what the motive or how the giver benefits from the action. According to biological altruism such as kin selection, it said humans and species act altruistically toward those we are more biologically related to because it increases the chances that our blood relations will survives and pass down our genes to future generations. Even though altruism benefit species and help them adapt to environment and carry on, there are many contradictory opinions and theories that went against altruism.
Does altruism really existed? There are theories and scientists who believe that there is no such thing as altruism that evolves in the aspect of evolutionary theory. It is said that individuals act and do things based on their self-interest.
Garrett Hardin, one of the ecologist expresses his view towards altruism is that it only exist on a small scale, for a short period of time and in specific circumstances, and within small intimate groups. Hardin believes in his idea of “Lifeboat Ethics”. According to Hardin, people who living in the rich nations are similar as to the occupants who were on a lifeboat drifting in the sea with other people drowning in the sea. If the people on the boat tried to save the drowning and getting them on the boat, everyone will get drown and the boat will sink. As a result, nobody will survive. It is better to leave the people and let them for their fate and focus on making ourselves back to safety. Hardin does not believe that universal altruism is wrong but according to evolutionary reasons, he believes widespread altruism will not last long. Due to the finite resources, there’s a specific carrying capacity and therefore altruism is limited.
Egoism is a theory that implies all human motivation is ultimately self-interested. What is self-interest? It is the fulfillment of one’s desires. Thomas Hobbes, one of the famous philosophers in the 17th century believed in egoism. Hobbes stated in his book Leviathan, which humans intend to do things that will be beneficial to themselves. Their goal is to do for his own good. If humans see some act that cost negative outcomes, there will be no kinship, trust, nor help.
“No man giveth but with intention of good to himself, because gift is voluntary; and of all voluntary acts, the object is to every man his own good; of which, if men see they shall be frustrated, there will be no beginning of benevolence or trust, nor consequently of mutual…