Heart of Altruism Perceptions of a Common Humanity

ISBN-10: 0691058474

ISBN-13: 9780691058474

Edition: 1998

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Description: Is all human behavior based on self-interest? Many social and biological theories would argue so, but such a perspective does not explain the many truly heroic acts committed by people willing to risk their lives to help others. InThe Heart of Altruism, Kristen Renwick Monroe boldly lays the groundwork for a social theory receptive to altruism by examining the experiences described by altruists themselves: from Otto, a German businessman who rescued over a hundred Jews in Nazi Germany, to Lucille, a newspaper poetry editor, who, armed with her cane, saved a young girl who was being raped. Monroe's honest and moving interviews with these little-known heroes enable her to explore the causes of altruism and the differences between altruists and other people. By delineating an overarching perspective of humanity shared by altruists, Monroe demonstrates how social theories may begin to account for altruism and debunks the notions of scientific inevitability that stem from an overemphasis on self-interest. As Monroe has discovered, the financial and religious backgrounds of altruists vary greatly--as do their views on issues such as welfare, civil rights, and morality. Altruists do, however, share a certain way of looking at the world: where the rest of us see a stranger, altruists see a fellow human being. It is this perspective that many social theories overlook. Monroe restores altruism to a general theory of ethical political behavior. She argues that to understand what makes one person act out of concern for others and not the self, we need to ask how that individual's perspective sets the range of options he or she finds available.

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Book details

List price: $47.95
Copyright year: 1998
Publisher: Princeton University Press
Publication date: 7/21/1998
Binding: Paperback
Pages: 312
Size: 6.25" wide x 9.50" long x 0.75" tall
Weight: 0.990
Language: English

Kristen Renwick Monroe is Professor of Political Science and Philosophy and Founder of the University of California-Irvine Ethics Center. She has published thirteen books, including the award-winning Heart of Altruism: Perceptions of a Common Humanity (1996) and The Hand of Compassion: Portraits of Moral Choice During the Holocaust (2004). The 2010 recipient of the Silverman Prize for outstanding work in ethics, Monroe also received the American Political Science Association's Pool Award and its Goodnow Award in 2010. She has served as President of the International Society of Political Psychology and Vice President of the APSA.

The Human Face of Altruism
Acknowledgments
Introduction
The Puzzle of Altruism
The Entrepreneur
The Philanthropist
The Heroine
Rescuers of Jews in Nazi Europe
Sociocultural Attributes of Altruism
Economic Approaches to Altruism
Explanations from Evolutionary Biology
Psychological Discussions of Altruism
The Altruistic Perspective: Perceptions of a Shared Humanity
Perspective and Ethical Political Acts: Initial Thoughts
Conclusion
Notes
Bibliography
Index
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