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The Altruistic Species: Scientific, Philosophical, and Religious Perspectives of Human Benevolence [Paperback]

Our Price $ 29.71  
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Item Specifications...

Pages   304
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 8.8" Width: 5.9" Height: 0.7"
Weight:   0.9 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   Oct 1, 2007
Publisher   Templeton Foundation Press
ISBN  1599471221  
EAN  9781599471228  

Availability  0 units.

Item Description...
What motivates altruism? How essential is the phenomenon of altruism to the human experience? Is altruism readily accessible to the ordinary person? In The Altruistic Species, Andrew Michael Flescher and Daniel L.Worthen explore these questions through the lenses of four disciplinary perspectives-biology, psychology, philosophy, and religion. In the course of their investigation, they make an extended argument for the existence of altruism against competing theories that construe all ostensible cases of benevolence as self-interest in disguise. The authors consider theories of egoism; the role of genetics and evolutionary biology; the psychological states that induce altruistic behavior; philosophical theories of altruism in normative ethics such as Kantian, utilitarian, and Aristotelian models of moral action; and accounts of love of the neighbor in Christianity and Buddhism. Additionally, they offer a new, comprehensive definition of altruism that is inclusive of the insights of each of these perspectives. The Altruistic Species reinvigorates the debate over the prevalence of selfless motivation in human behavior-whether it is a rare or ubiquitous phenomenon, something that is always to be considered exceptional or a capacity that members of any community potentially could develop. This noteworthy interdisciplinary examination of altruism balances science, virtue theory, and theology. It is ideal for courses in ethics, human behavior, and evolutionary biology, as an educational resource for other multidisciplinary studies, and for interested lay readers.

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More About Andrew Michael Flescher

Register your artisan biography and upload your photo! Flescher is assistant professor in the Department of Religious Studies at California State University, Chico.

Andrew Michael Flescher currently resides in the state of California. Andrew Michael Flescher was born in 1969 and has an academic affiliation as follows - State University of New York, Stony Brook.

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Two Chico State University Professors Publish Book on Altruism  Nov 2, 2007
It's likely that within a short distance of where you are there are people who could use your help. Maybe those people are in your own family.

Helping them would cost something: in time, treasure or emotional involvement, and it's tempting to think that genuine self-giving is the province of those moral saints we can never hope to emulate. But, according to two Chico, CA academics, we'd be wrong.

Associate professors Andrew Michael Flescher (religious studies) and Daniel L. Worthen (psychology) contend that altruism (a regard for others in which their well-being becomes "the ultimate object of one's concern") is practiced by more "everyday" people than we might think. For the past several years the two instructors have taught "What Motivates Altruism?" to groups of honors students, taking a multi-disciplinary approach to the study of the phenomenon. But it's not just theory. Each student is asked to shadow certain Chico residents who are "directly engaged in social advocacy, welfare, and service." Students report back how ordinary these people are. And they begin to see that altruism is not just for the Mother Teresas of the world.

Flescher and Worthen have now published a book based on the class: "The Altruistic Species: Scientific, Philosophical, and Religious Perspectives of Human Benevolence" ($34.95 in paperback from Templeton Foundation Press).

Though the book delves into biological kinship systems and Immanuel Kant's categorical imperative, the writing is clear and accessible. In its calm way of demolishing objections to the authors' contention that most all of us have the capacity -- and moral obligation -- to become more altruistic in our character (as part of what Aristotle called human flourishing), the book is also revolutionary.

Two examples will suffice. Chicoans Farshad Azad, whose Basket Brigade helps feed people during the holidays, and Matt Jackson, "who launched Chico's Boys and Girls Club" and volunteers with the NAACP, "stress not only that there is little special about them ... but also that the effort they exert should not be confined to themselves alone. The 'work' of becoming altruistic can and should be shouldered by many."

It's a matter, the authors say, of "practicing ... moral skills" which become part of the "stable character" of altruism. It is a measure of the genuinely happy life.

Copyright 2007 Chico Enterprise-Record. Used by permission.

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