'The chief problem of human life', wrote Auguste Comte, 'is the subordination of egoism to altruism.' This collection examines the nature and value of altruism as a moral virtue, restoring it to its proper place at the centre of our moral and political thinking.
The first five essays in the collection explore the relationship between altruism and other moral concepts such as self-interest, autonomy, community and impartiality. The five essays in the second part show how altruism is invoked in practical moral problems, including aid to developing countries, the market for human body parts, multiculturalism and the politics of recognition, and medical ethics. Through these discussions, the central role of altruism in moral thinking is brought into sharper focus.
Part 1: Theoretical Issues 1. Are They My Poor?: The problem of altruism in a world of strangers 2. Altruism, Self-Interest and the Indistinctness of Persons 3. Egotism and Altruism: Outlines of a materialist conception of the good 4. Is There a Paradox of Altruism? 5. Personal and Impersonal Altruism Part 2: Practical Issues 6. Duties of Good Samaritanism: A Matter of Justice 7. Whose Suffering and Whose Benefit?: The duty to distant others 8. The Right to Trade in Human Body Parts 9. Altruism and Recognition 10. Incapacity, Altruism, Medicine and the Law