Faculty Publications

Title

Altruism and the endurance of the good

Document Type

Article

Keywords

Altruism, Bureaucracy, Egoism, Ethics, Third sector

Journal/Book/Conference Title

Voluntas

Volume

11

Issue

3

First Page

237

Last Page

253

Abstract

Egoism is a pervasive trait in modern market societies that encourages people to focus upon their own self-interest above all else. Third-sector organizations, by contrast, are frequently termed "altruistic." This essay elucidates the meaning of "altruism" as it applies to these organizations. Moral altruism means direct concern for another's well being-whoever that person might be. This study rejects psychological egoism as a meaningful psychological theory, and ethical egoism as a coherent moral position; it discusses empirical studies of altruism in rescuers of Jews in Nazi-occupied Europe as proof against the former form of egoism and Kant's moral theory against the latter. The essay then argues that altruism is a form of public action in Hannah Arendt's sense of this term. The essay concludes that third-sector organizations are altruistic insofar as they engage in public action, thereby, treating beneficiaries with respect for their individuality. © 2000 International Society for Third-Sector Research and The Johns Hopkins University.

Original Publication Date

12-1-2000

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