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Humanities – Morality Theory

In the current essay I would like to consider the moral theory of altruism. To begin with, it should be noted that altruism – is the moral principle, which required selfless actions for the benefit and satisfaction of another person interests. As a rule, this term is used to refer the ability of sacrifice your own benefit for the common good, according to Elias Khalil (2009).It can be said that the term altruism is introduced as opposed to selfishness. The concept of altruism was introduced in XIX century by a French philosopher and founder of sociology Auguste Comte, who characterized it as selfless motives of a man, which entail actions for the benefit of others. According to Comte, the principle of altruism, says: “Live for others”. In my opinion, it can be said that the phenomenon of altruism can be clearly seen from the following quote: “We respect people for their good deeds only when we can not explain these things. We explain the behavior of these people by their internal dispositions only if we do not have external explanations. When the external causes are obvious, we proceed from them, rather than personality traits”, according to Daniel Batson (2011).

It can be said that nowadays, the belief that people should help those in need, regardless of the likely benefits in the future, is the norm of social responsibility. This norm encourages people, for example, to raise the book, which was dropped by the man on crutches. Official data shows that even if a person, providing help and care remain unknown and do not expect any gratitude, he/she often help those in needs. As a fact, altruism means the intuitive, unconscious desire to help a person, who does not necessarily refer to those, with whom you are bound by ties of love or friendship. On the contrary, an altruistic desire to help a stranger historically has been considered as particularly elegant proof of nobility, according to Ann Smith (2004).Without any doubts, such selfless altruistic impulses are valued extremely high in our society and even carry a moral compensation for the caused troubles. In particular, by feeling empathy, we turn our attention not so much on our own distress, but rather on the suffering of others.

The clearest example of empathy – is the unconditional, immediate assistance to people to whom we feel affection. I would like to mention that among scientists, who study the relationship of selfishness and empathy there is different points of view on the concept of altruism. As a result, numerous experiments with the aim to determine whether all persons are capable to absolute unselfishness were conducted. It is essential to note that the experimental results showed that people are capable to absolute unselfishness, however, scientists-skeptics have argued that neither experiment can rule out all possible selfish motives of care. In any case, I am convinced that life itself has confirmed that there are people, who care about the welfare of others, sometimes to the detriment of their own good. I would like to finish this work by the following quote: “No matter how selfish may seem a man, in his nature is clearly laid down certain laws, which forcing him to be interested in fate of others and consider their happiness as necessity for him, although he had got nothing of that, except the pleasure of seeing the happiness of others”, according to Daniel Batson (2011).


Ann Smith (2004). An analysis of altruism: a concept of caring. Retrieved September 7, 2011 from http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1046/j.1365-2648.1995.22040785.x/abstract;jsessionid=8EE26BE22BF88DA3E579B86FB6A940B9.d02t01
Daniel Batson (2011). Altruism in Humans. Oxford University Press, USA; 1 edition. 336 pages.
Elias Khalil (2009). A charitable view of altruism: Commentary on “What is altruism?”. Retrieved September 7, 2011 from http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0167487003000783