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There is a large, not vast, literature on altruism, and it is the basis for socialism as a political philosophy.  I'm pretty familiar with it, but, like most social scientist ranging from Marxists to Austrian School rightists, I don't find it very convincing, empirically.  With all its faults, even simplistic selfishness just explains the data on human behavior better, and classic self-interest, which includes as a subset the desire to help others, explains it even better, both theoretically and empirically.  That's why the literature is so much more vast for non-altruistic assumptions.  
by santiago on Sun Mar 1st, 2009 at 06:17:13 PM EST
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