/al"trooh iz'euhm/, n.1. the principle or practice of unselfish concern for or devotion to the welfare of others (opposed to egoism).2. Animal Behav. behavior by an animal that may be to its disadvantage but that benefits others of its kind, as a warning cry that reveals the location of the caller to a predator.[1850-55; < F altruisme, equiv. to autru(i) others ( < VL *alterui, obl. form of L alter other ( > F autre), with -ui from cui to whom; -l- restored from L alter) + -isme -ISM; popularized through trans. of A. Comte, who perh. coined it, on the model of égoisme EGOISM]
* * *Ethical theory that regards the good of others as the end of moral action; by extension, the disposition to take the good of others as an end in itself.The term (French, altruisme, derived from Latin alter: "other") was coined in the 19th century by Auguste Comte and adopted generally as a convenient antithesis to egoism. Most altruists have held that each person has an obligation to further the pleasures and alleviate the pains of other people. The same argument holds if happiness, rather than pleasure, is taken as the end of life.
* * *▪ ethicsin ethics, a theory of conduct that regards the good of others as the end of moral action. The term (French altruisme, derived from Latin alter, “other”) was coined in the 19th century by Auguste Comte (Comte, Auguste), the founder of Positivism, and adopted generally as a convenient antithesis to egoism. As a theory of conduct, its adequacy depends on an interpretation of “the good.” If the term is taken to mean pleasure and the absence of pain, most altruists have agreed that a moral agent has an obligation to further the pleasures and alleviate the pains of other people. The same argument holds if happiness is taken as the end of life. But critics have asked, if no one has a moral obligation to procure his own happiness, why should anyone else have an obligation to procure happiness for him? Other conflicts have arisen between immediate pain and long-range good, especially when the good envisioned by the doer does not coincide with the vision of the beneficiary.Some British Utilitarians, such as Herbert Spencer (Spencer, Herbert) and Leslie Stephen (Stephen, Sir Leslie), attacked the distinction between self and others that is basic to both altruism and egoism. Such Utilitarians viewed the end of moral activity as the welfare of society, the social organism.
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