Wednesday, September 20, 2017
The False Choice Between Altruism and Social Conformity
Some think that altruism is not real if it has any mixture of self-interest, social pressure, or social conformity.
But we learn how to serve others, much the way we learn anything else. Virtue is a practice which we try to get better at and make habitual. When it becomes second nature, it can appear to be "pure".
Yet we learn how, exactly, to be altruistic from social models. And we keep on trying to learn how to make virtue habitual because we have the support of social norms and of other people promoting those norms.
Moreover, when we do serve others, we also can reap the approbation of others - that is, enhance our status.
These are not impurities of altruistic service. This is the very human and social way that we learn how to be altruistic servants.