Penny Lane gave up months of wages and weeks of her life to have her kidney cut out and given to someone she doesn’t know and who may never thank her. She is one of about 200 people per year in the United States who give up a kidney altruistically. What motivates someone to do that?
Evolutionary psychologist Michael McCullough believes that not only is there true altruism among the human species but that it is a unique trait, an emerging and spreading trait, and it is selected for by evolution, even out-competing the more familiar traits of selfishness that drive evolution in other species. And this trait is responsible for moral progress in the world. Host Barry Lam is skeptical and calls friend of the show Kieran Setiya to talk him out of his skepticism, only to discover that, in many ways, humans are even worse than he thought. We may have evolved to demand altruism of others, but not be altruistic ourselves.
For all back episodes from Seasons 1 thru 4 of Hi-Phi Nation, visit www.hiphination.org