Talk:Altruism

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search

First sentence seems unconnected.[edit]

It mentions the connection between the Golden rule of reciprocity, and altruism; however, altruism involves unselfishness, while the other expects you to treat others as you'd like to be treated. There are a lot of ethical "rules" or guidelines; why make the connection between these two? Is the english version of altruism really the same as reciprocity? They just don't seem to match each other as much as the sentence indicates, which makes the sentence seem out of place.

Proposed addition of individual difference research[edit]

Hi Chealer. As promised here is some elaboration on my removal of your recent contributions. For the benefit of other editors, here is an extract of our conversation brought over from my talk page:

As for the above case, you commented the change with "The concern isn't lack of detail. It is lack of integration (as well as undue weight). Please attend to the psychology section.[1]". This comment was related to your comment in the reversion performed during the section's redaction, "Content not integrated with extant article.[2]". These comments suggest you considered that the content added would have been more appropriate elsewhere, apparently in the Psychology section. You are free to move content in an article. In this case though, note that the content's location was carefully considered. Unfortunately, the content is as much related to evolution as to psychology, so I'm afraid Psychology wouldn't be the right location. However, I did end up creating a new section after giving up on finding an appropriate existing location. I also feel something is wrong in the article's structure, but I can't picture how it should be. I encourage you to open a discussion on the article's talk page if you can't find a location which pleases you. --Chealer (talk) 05:02, 22 August 2013 (UTC)

With regard to ‘lack of integration’, there were a couple of things that made me think that the edit had been made on a bit of a whim and without meaningfully considering the rest of the article. For me, content that covers purported individual differences in altruism is clearly psychological, and if not psychological, clearly scientific. It does not warrant its own 1st tier section. Moreover, this is a general encyclopaedic article on altruism and the article is necessarily going to cover some fairly broad and popular philosophical, religious, and scientific topics. A three sentence point about individual difference in altruism does not trump these topics and I cannot understand why this would be given prime position in the article.

This is where undue weight comes in. Given the apparently haphazard addition, I started to suspect that this was little more than subtle spam. That is, an effort to raise publicity for a particular piece of marginal research with little consideration given to its relative importance in the study of altruism. Your further addition of information about when and where the research was conducted only increased my suspicion.

Anyway, those were my thoughts on the matter. If you think I am off the mark then I would be pleased to have my fears assuaged. That being said, I also think it might be worth quickly checking your motivations for these edits. And, of course, I would be keen to hear what other editors think on the topic. Cheers Andrew (talk) 10:31, 26 August 2013 (UTC)

The content is definitely psychological. The problem is we don't want to duplicate the content to each section where it fits, at least for maintenance efficiency. The content is clearly scientific, but isn't a scientific viewpoint. I also don't think that content warrants its own first tier section. As I said, I only reluctantly created a section after failing to find an appropriate existing section. Anyone is welcome to merge this in an existing section if possible, to rearrange the article so it fits elsewhere, or to add content to the new section if appropriate. Regarding the second option, I always found the "Scientific viewpoints" title awkward, and went as far as to check how this structure was obtained (see [3]). In the end, I was about one centimeter from proceeding to renaming "Scientific viewpoints" to "Science". If you want to proceed with such a change, I am certainly not going to oppose. --Chealer (talk) 04:01, 30 August 2013 (UTC)
Ah, I see. The choice of the section's positioning was made to get a thematic order. I could not find another way to keep the viewpoints sections side-by-side and the new section adjacent to Scientific viewpoints. You are free to reorder if you find a better solution. Giving the section prime position was not part of the considerations (although I recognize that ordering by importance is better than random order). The second edit was not about when and where the "research" from the first edit was conducted. The first edit's main purpose was to introduce the findings on heritability the second edit refers to.--Chealer (talk) 04:01, 30 August 2013 (UTC)
You are free to research my motivations or to request more opinions, though if your concern is the first research, you might want to consider that it was published before I was born, and although I share a name with its [lead] author and live in Canada, I may very well be genetically closer to you than to Rushton ;-) Thanks for explaining your concerns, and feel free to implement any potential improvement you see. --Chealer (talk) 04:01, 30 August 2013 (UTC)
Dear Chealer. Our wikipiedia guideline is 'be bold, revert, discuss'. It is not 'be bold, revert, discuss, edit war. Please make a sincere effort to reach consensus here before attempting to push through with your edit.
I will have a think on your comments and do my best to get back to you with my thoughts over the next couple of days. Also, I hope you do not mind but I rearranged your responses so that the flow of my post was preserved and also so that other editors could more easily follow the chronology of the discussion. Kind regards Andrew (talk) 03:04, 31 August 2013 (UTC).
Hi Chealer. First of all, I agree that “scientific viewpoint” is an awkward name for a section. I would propose “scientific research” as an alternative. With this in mind, would you agree that it would be logical to situate the proposed content under the Psychology subtitle? I don't think that the content would need to be covered in other sections. Cheers Andrew (talk) 14:30, 2 September 2013 (UTC)
Hi U3964057, I'm not sure about the title "Scientific research" as the section contains findings. Although these findings are of course the result of scientific research and the title wouldn't be a lie, I would expect a section "Scientific research" to cover current (or future) research on the topic, not the results of past research. The title "Scientific findings" may be better, however at least the Sociology section is a little particular, treating how altruism can be encouraged. I question the need to cover all scientific content in a single section.
As for your merging proposal, I don't think I would agree. Again, I consider the content to be related to psychology, so if I had read the article and found that content in the Psychology section, I would not have found it misplaced. However, as duplicating the content should be a last resort, the content should not only have a valid location, but a location as good as possible. And since heritability is a genetic topic, I think if it's not found in a section on heritability, the best sections should be Genetics, Biology, Science(?) or the lead. Many articles on traits also cover heritability in a Causes section, which is currently not found in this article. There is no Biology or Genetics section, but there is an "Evolutionary explanations" section on those, which could be generalized. --Chealer (talk) 02:53, 6 September 2013 (UTC)
Hi U3964057. The "be bold, revert, discuss" essay is just that, not a guideline. A "BRD cycle" may be fine, just like any sequence. I imagine the objective of the essay's authors was to promote favoring action over discussion, and discussion over confrontation. One doesn't need to ask if others agree with a change before implementing it. A single-article change can be easily reverted, so if the change is not expensive, it's best to just do it and see if others find issues than to discuss it and risk that the change is never made.
However, if it turns out that editors disagree on a change, the reasons should be discussed before spending more efforts doing changes likely to be wasted. You can take as long as you wish to think about this. However, please consider that if nobody would prioritize resolution, everyone would be reverting continually and conflicts would have no end. --Chealer (talk) 03:07, 6 September 2013 (UTC)
Hey there. I am back. I could pretend that I spent a month carefully considering this, but in reality I got distracted with other things. Sorry about that.
Anyway, what you are doing is edit warring. Slow edit warring, with commentary, but edit warring nonetheless. Yes, BRD is not a formal guideline, but it is a widely accepted Wikipedia norm, and is incredibly valuable. I have significant concerns with the location and language of your addition. So far we have begun discussing the first of these, but you insist on reintroducing your unaltered edits in a way that completely disregards article stability. Please stop doing this and make a concerted effort to reach consensus here before proceeding. Or in the words of BRD "when the discussion has achieved mutual understanding, attempt a new edit that will be acceptable to all participants in the discussion" (emphasis added). If you think BRD is not useful in this particular case then I am all ears, but what you have contributed on that topic so far is somewhat unintelligible to me ("spending more efforts doing changes"? "if the change is not expensive"?).
So on the topic of your addition, and in the context of our nascent discussion, could you please explain what you mean by "duplicating content"? I do not understand why locating the subtopic within the psychology section would necessitate duplication. I also don't know why you think that "scientific research" cannot naturally refer to a body of historical work, but that might be a discussion for another time. Kind regards Andrew (talk) 13:05, 30 September 2013 (UTC)
Hi Andrew. Don't worry about letting some time pass, we all have a life outside Wikipedia ;-)
The "be bold, revert, discuss" essay is not a norm. It may be valuable, but collaboration is unfortunately a lot more complex than the linear process it depicts.
If you're concerned about the addition disrupting "article stability", please explain. "spending more efforts doing changes" refers to the efforts on the article which could be wasted by continuing with unjustified reversions. When I speak of non-expensive changes, I speak of such simples additions to articles, as opposed to - for example - global project changes which would require editions of multiple pages. By "duplicating content", I meant copying the content, resulting in the content showing in several sections of the article. Basically, either we find a good place for a content to go, or we put it in several not-so-good places. Putting a content in 2 or more places should be a last resort, as it may put unwarranted emphasis on the content, makes articles "unnecessarily" long, and complicates article maintenance, although it is sometimes unavoidable. Duplication is problematic both for readers and contributors. There's also the alternative of referring to a section from another one.
As I explained, I don't think I would agree with simply merging the content with the Psychology section. This would leave the options of duplicating the content or covering it somewhere other than the Psychology section.
As for renaming the section to "Scientific research", as I wrote, the title wouldn't be a lie, but I would expect a section "Scientific research" to cover current (or future) research on the topic, not the results of past research. That might be a personal expectation, or other may expect the same, but I am not going to perform such a change, although I won't necessarily oppose if you decide to perform such a change anyway. --Chealer (talk) 21:35, 12 October 2013 (UTC)
Hi Chealer. Obviously we still disagree about healthy editing behavior, but perhaps it will be better to relegate that issue to the relevant thread in my talk page. I would be keen to focus on trying to reach consensus about article content here.
To that end, it sounds like you are happy with the idea that the present section on 'scientific viewpoints' is awkwardly titled and really covers past and present scientific research. For starters then, would you be comfortable locating this information about scientific research on individual difference in altruism somewhere in the 'scientific viewpoints' section? Perhaps we can start from there.
I would also like to reassure you that I would also not be happy with duplicating the content within the article. I, however, don't think this will be a problem if we discuss further the appropriate location. And I would of course be hopeful that other editors will chime in on this process. Kind regards Andrew (talk) 09:01, 13 October 2013 (UTC)
Hi Andrew, I wouldn't find it appropriate to locate the content in a section titled "Scientific viewpoints". However, I would have no problem to put it together with the contents of the Scientific viewpoints section, if an appropriate title can be found. That being said, I question again the need to cover all scientific content in a single section.
Of course, I'd also welcome opinions, ideas or bold moves from other editors. --Chealer (talk) 17:35, 13 October 2013 (UTC)

────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────An edit summary like "unjustified reversion" suggests a lack familiarity with WP:BRD. A quick look at the history suggests that a new section was added in August, and has been edit warred back into the article four times since then: addition, re-add, re-add, re-add, re-add. Naturally everyone has good intentions, but the diffs show what is known as edit warring which is not permitted. The procedure is that if a new addition is challenged, the addition is not re-added until a consensus on talk supports the new material. The edit summary in the first removal ("Content not integrated with extant article") is a valid concern which does not appear to have been addressed. Johnuniq (talk) 01:32, 14 October 2013 (UTC)

Thanks for weighing in Johnuniq. It is good to have that little bit of reassurance that I haven't gone completely crazy.
To the task at hand. Chealer, given that you object so strongly to the subheading 'scientific viewpoints' (although I think you might be missing the forest for the trees here), would you be happy with individual differences being placed in a subsection titled something like 'scientific research' or 'in science'? Regards Andrew (talk) 10:08, 14 October 2013 (UTC)
Please see above for my opinion on renaming the section "Scientific research". As for 'in science', as I wrote, when I looked for a way to fix the structure, I stopped one centimeter before reaching the point where I would have renamed the section to "Science". Nevertheless, I think "Science" is strictly better than the current title, and the new content could definitely fit in a section called "Science". I suppose what stopped me from performing the rename was the impression that such a change would have hidden a problem - i.e. the presence of an unneeded section to group all scientific content. Giving the section a new name would have felt like legitimizing its existence, but I won't oppose if others do that. --Chealer (talk) 15:26, 14 October 2013 (UTC)
Whooooo! A concession! Alright, that is one down. A couple more to go.
Given that you are happy with placing the content within a section renamed 'in science', the question now becomes; where within that section should it go? I would suggest, as I did earlier, that an appropriate place given the current article structure would be within the 'psychology' section. I think the fact that two of the three sources are from psychological journals leads us to this solution, as does the third source's heavy invocation of psychological concepts. I do not see any risk of duplication and any necessary cross referencing can be achieved using intra-article wikilinks. Consequently then, would you (or other editors for that matter) be happy placing the content under a sub-heading of 'individual differences' within the psychology section? Cheers Andrew (talk) 11:57, 15 October 2013 (UTC)
I'm not sure I follow you, but...
As I wrote, I wouldn't consider it inappropriate to find this content in a section on psychology, but I would not expect to have to read a section on Psychology to find this information, so I would find it undesirable not to have this content elsewhere than in the section on psychology. Altruism being a psychological topic itself, its coverage will indeed often come from psychological journals, but that doesn't mean the whole article should figure in a Psychology section (however, it does mean the article can be added to the Psychology category). Unless a part of the article is particularly psychological, another section is probably preferable - in this case one on genetics. As there was no section on genetics or biology, I created a dedicated section. However, there was already genetics- and biology-related content, and it is possible to create such sections by grouping content. --Chealer (talk) 03:52, 16 October 2013 (UTC)
Hi Chealer. Thanks for your response, and I am willing to let this second idea go. That is, I would be happy to see a new section within the sciences section labelled something like 'individual differences'. I do agree that structuring the this section around scientific disciplines is probably not the way to go anyway, and perhaps this will be the watershed moment toward some more nuanced structures. Does this sound ok to you?
If so, the last concern I want to raise relates to undue weight. Specifically, in a general article like this on altruism, which is a massive topic, it seems inappropriate to be making specific mention of things like the location the research was performed in and exact statistical results. Would you be happy for me to perhaps reinsert the content with these sorts of details omitted? Cheers Andrew (talk) 14:39, 18 October 2013 (UTC)
Hi Andrew. As I wrote, I do not mind if the new content is moved inside a section on science, as long as that section has an appropriate title. You are also free to change the title to "Individual differences".
As for undue weight, the entirety of the second paragraph in question here constitutes approximately 42 words out of the article's 6448, which I don't consider as heavy. I'm all for shorter, but there have been 2 studies on the topic which generated very different results (in a sense, the results of the 2009 study are 150% different from the 1986 study). I would find it inappropriate to remove a mention of one study keeping the results of the other without good reasons. Unless we would synthesize results, but that seems very delicate as well as less informative.
I already used 2 notes to keep the size minimal. The role of one of these notes is precisely to let us present the results of the 1986 study in very condensed form, somewhat protecting the paragraph from accusations of oversimplification. That being said, if you're confident some change is desirable, please be bold as always. Mentioning the MIT is not essential. --Chealer (talk) 18:09, 19 October 2013 (UTC)
Hi all. It's been a while but I want to return to this. As will be apparent from the above discussion, I have long had concerns about the addition of this content. Unfortunately chealer, my antagonist here, wore me down with persistent edit warring and prolonged and circuitous argumentation. In the end it was too much of a time suck for me and I felt like the best approach was to give up for the meantime and wait until Chealer got blocked. It took longer than I thought, but that has recently happened. Unless anyone objects then, my plan is to remove the content for now due to concerns about undue weight, original research, and a lack of integration with the rest of the article. If anyone thinks that the content should be included in some form, we can start the conversation afresh, with the burden of argumentation on those who wish to see the content added. How does that sound to everyone? I'll give it at least a week before taking any action. Cheers Andrew (talk) 08:08, 9 May 2015 (UTC)
Hi all. Just letting everyone know that I have gone ahead with the removal. Cheers Andrew (talk) 00:45, 6 June 2015 (UTC)

Dr. Chen's comment on this article[edit]

Dr. Chen has reviewed this Wikipedia page, and provided us with the following comments to improve its quality:


There is a recent closely related literature in economics, called "social preferences," which studies altruism both theoretically and experimentally. Representative publications include the following:

Rabin (1993), David K. Levine (1998), Fehr and Klaus M. Schmidt (1999), Gary E. Bolton and Axel Ockenfels (2000), Gary Charness and Matthew Rabin (2002), Amin Falk and Fischbacher (2006), James C. Cox, Daniel Friedman and Steven Gjerstad (2007).


We hope Wikipedians on this talk page can take advantage of these comments and improve the quality of the article accordingly.


Dr. has published scholarly research which seems to be relevant to this Wikipedia article:


  • Reference : Liu, Yang, et al. "I loan because...: Understanding motivations for pro-social lending." Proceedings of the fifth ACM international conference on Web search and data mining. ACM, 2012.


ExpertIdeasBot (talk) 06:01, 30 October 2014 (UTC)

Picture of mother teresa?[edit]

Dear all,

is having a picture of mother teresa a good idea here?

It is already well established she pretty much stole money, let people die in very awful hospitals (for which she received lots of money to improve).

I feel a bit weird seeing her (a complete fraud) on a page on altruism.

Garnhami (talk) 10:18, 14 June 2017 (UTC)

What, exactly, did he "found"?[edit]

From the article: "The term was originally coined in the 19th century by the founding sociologist and philosopher of science, Auguste Comte"

Is it being claimed that Comte founded the study known as "socilolgy"? Or that he founded the philosophy of science? Or that he founded the concept of 'altruism'? It is not clear from the statement or the context. 74.95.43.249 (talk) 01:43, 27 June 2017 (UTC)