Moving Beyond Self-Interest: Perspectives from Evolutionary Biology, Neuroscience, and the Social Sciences

Moving Beyond Self-Interest: Perspectives from Evolutionary Biology, Neuroscience, and the Social Sciences

by Stephanie L. Brown, R. Michael Brown, Louis A. Penner
     
 

Moving Beyond Self-Interest is an interdisciplinary volume that discusses cutting-edge developments in the science of caring for and helping others. In Part I, contributors raise foundational issues related to human caregiving. They present new theories and data to show how natural selection might have shaped a genuinely altruistic drive to benefit others, how this

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Overview

Moving Beyond Self-Interest is an interdisciplinary volume that discusses cutting-edge developments in the science of caring for and helping others. In Part I, contributors raise foundational issues related to human caregiving. They present new theories and data to show how natural selection might have shaped a genuinely altruistic drive to benefit others, how this drive intersects with the attachment and caregiving systems, and how it emerges from a broader social engagement system made possible by symbiotic regulation of autonomic physiological states. In Part II, contributors propose a new neurophysiological model of the human caregiving system and present arguments and evidence to show how mammalian neural circuitry that supports parenting might be recruited to direct human cooperation and competition, human empathy, and parental and romantic love. Part III is devoted to the psychology of human caregiving. Some contributors in this section show how an evolutionary perspective helps us better understand parental investment in and empathic concern for children at risk for, or suffering from, various health, behavioral, and cognitive problems. Other contributors identify circumstances that differentially predict caregiver benefits and costs, and raise the question of whether extreme levels of compassion are actually pathological. The section concludes with a discussion of semantic and conceptual obstacles to the scientific investigation of caregiving. Part IV focuses on possible interfaces between new models of caregiving motivation and economics, political science, and social policy development. In this section, contributors show how the new theory and research discussed in this volume can inform our understanding of economic utility, policies for delivering social services (such as health care and education), and hypotheses concerning the origins and development of human society, including some of its more problematic features of nationalism, conflict, and war. The chapters in this volume help readers appreciate the human capacity for engaging in altruistic acts, on both a small and large scale.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Moving Beyond Self-Interest is a highly significant edited collection that will serve as a foundation stone for future research in this field. The volume editors are leading the way in describing the basic science of the caregiving system at the biological, psychological, and evolutionary levels. This intellectually elevating collection is a must-read for anyone who is interested in human nature at its best, or who reflects on the potential of social organization and policy to optimize human thriving."
- Stephen G. Post, Director, Center for Medical Humanities, Compassionate Care, and Bioethics, Stony Brook University Medical Center, and editor of Altruism and Health: Perspectives from Empirical Research

"This book is a valuable resource on an under-studied but critical topic for the field and our species - the causes, consequences, and correlates of caregiving behavior. The cast of contributing authors is stellar. Topics range from the evolutionary, neurological, and motivational bases of caregiving, to its implications for economics, political science, and social policy."
- Nancy Eisenberg, Regents' Professor of Psychology, Arizona State University

"For most of the twentieth century, social scientists resisted any attempts to think about human beings in evolutionary terms, out of fear that we'd discover terrible things about our selfish natures. But a new wave of biologically based research has demonstrated that we are intricately designed to care about other people. Moving Beyond Self-Interest is an impressive and thought-provoking volume."
- Douglas T. Kenrick, Professor of Psychology, Arizona State University, and author of Sex, Murder, and the Meaning of Life

"From a variety of starting points, this volume provides the reader with the perspective necessary to truly understand the relationships among such vital phenomena as self-interest, altruism, and care-giving."
- Robert B. Cialdini, author of Influence: Science and Practice

"This volume comes with an ambitious, even breathtaking title: Moving Beyond Self-Interest: Perspectives from Evolutionary Biology, Neuroscience, and the Social Sciences. This book truly delivers what it advertises. I know of no other volume on prosocial behavior and helping that covers so much important material so well. This is an extraordinary book from people who bring insights and perspective to one of the most important aspects of the human condition."
- William Graziano Professor, Department of Psychological Sciences, Purdue University

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780195388107
Publisher:
Oxford University Press, USA
Publication date:
10/26/2011
Pages:
320
Product dimensions:
6.40(w) x 9.40(h) x 1.20(d)

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