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Altruism in Humans$
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C. Daniel Batson

Print publication date: 2010

Print ISBN-13: 9780195341065

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195341065.001.0001

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Turning to Experiments

Turning to Experiments

(p.83) 4 Turning to Experiments
Altruism in Humans

C. Daniel Batson

Oxford University Press

This chapter builds a case for experimentation as the best method to test the empathy-altruism hypothesis against its egoistic alternatives. It also considers limitations of this method. First, cases of heroic helping are offered, and reasons are given why such cases do not provide persuasive evidence for the existence of altruism. The logic of experimentation is then summarized, and the role of experiments in Galilean versus Aristotelian science discussed. Implications of the Aristotelian-Galilean distinction for research on altruism are drawn. Two examples of experiments designed to test the nature of the motivation to help produced by empathic concern are then described. Finally, limitations of experimental research are considered, including the open-set problem, the use of undergraduate samples, research problems for which experiments are not appropriate, and ethical issues.

Keywords:   aristotelian-galilean distinction, aristotelian science, egoistic alternatives, empathy-altruism hypothesis, experimentation, galilean science, heroic helping, limitations of experimental research

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