Unto Others: The Evolution and Psychology of Unselfish Behavior by Elliott SoberUnto Others: The Evolution and Psychology of Unselfish Behavior by Elliott Sober

Unto Others: The Evolution and Psychology of Unselfish Behavior

byElliott Sober, David Sloan Wilson

Paperback | October 15, 1999

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No matter what we do, however kind or generous our deeds may seem, a hidden motive of selfishness lurks--or so science has claimed for years. This book, whose publication promises to be a major scientific event, tells us differently. In Unto Others philosopher Elliott Sober and biologist David Sloan Wilson demonstrate once and for all that unselfish behavior is in fact an important feature of both biological and human nature. Their book provides a panoramic view of altruism throughout the animal kingdom--from self-sacrificing parasites to insects that subsume themselves in the superorganism of a colony to the human capacity for selflessness--even as it explains the evolutionary sense of such behavior.

Explaining how altruistic behavior can evolve by natural selection, this book finally gives credence to the idea of group selection that was originally proposed by Darwin but denounced as heretical in the 1960s. With their account of this controversy, Sober and Wilson offer a detailed case study of scientific change as well as an indisputable argument for group selection as a legitimate theory in evolutionary biology.

Unto Others also takes a novel evolutionary approach in explaining the ultimate psychological motives behind unselfish human behavior. Developing a theory of the proximate mechanisms that most likely evolved to motivate adaptive helping behavior, Sober and Wilson show how people and perhaps other species evolved the capacity to care for others as a goal in itself.

A truly interdisciplinary work that blends biology, philosophy, psychology, and anthropology, this book will permanently change not just our view of selfless behavior but also our understanding of many issues in evolutionary biology and the social sciences.

Elliott Sober is Vilas Research Professor and Hans Reichenbach Professor of Philosophy at the University of Wisconsin, Madison.
Title:Unto Others: The Evolution and Psychology of Unselfish BehaviorFormat:PaperbackDimensions:416 pages, 9.25 × 6.13 × 0 inPublished:October 15, 1999Publisher:HarvardLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0674930479

ISBN - 13:9780674930476


Table of Contents

Introduction: Bentham's Corpse

Evolutionary Altruism

Altruism as a Biological Concept

A Unified Theory of Evolutionary Altruism

Adaptation and Multilevel Selection

Group Selection and Human Behavior

Human Groups as Adaptive Units

Psychological Altruism

Motives as Proximate Mechanisms

Three Theories of Motivation

Psychological Evidence

Philosophical Arguments

The Evolution of Psychological Altruism

Conclusion: Pluralism




From Our Editors

This important book shows us that unselfish behaviour is actually a feature of biological and human nature. Unto Others looks at altruism in the animal kingdom. We learn about parasites that sacrifice themselves, insects that become part of a colony and even humans who perform selfless acts. This fascinating book explains the evolutionary view on these practices.

Editorial Reviews

Unto Others, written by two eminent scholars, a philosopher (Elliott Sober) and a biologist (David Wilson) who have thought long and hard about unselfish cooperative behavior and group selection, is bound to have a long-lasting and strong influence on the field of evolutionary biology...In this book, philosophical and biological discourse are tightly woven together into an easy-to-read package. The major appeal of this book to those interested in he comparative and evolutionary study of behavior centers on the broad range of material that Sober and Wilson consider in arguing for group selection...All in all, Unto Others is a good read...I'm sure all readers will come away from this stimulating book having learned a lot and having had their own views challenged by this thoughtful and very timely essay.