Is altruism possible?

July 15th, 2010

How do we reconcile the fundamental idea of evolution, survival of the fittest, with the idea of altruism? We know that throughout nature, living things often pass up advantages and make sacrifices to help fellow members of their species. Such behavior is however, counter to evolutionary ideas and leads us to wonder if pure selflessness really can and ever exist. Oren Harman, Chair in the Program of Science, Technology and Society at Bar Ilan University in Israel weaves together, in his new work The Price of Altruism: George Price and the Search for the Origins of Kindness, theses mysteries in the context of the story of one man committed to truth and sacrifice. My conversation with Oren Harman: