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Eager for Fairness or for Revenge? Altruism and Emotion in Neuroeconomics

Clavien, Christine and Klein, Rebekka (2009) Eager for Fairness or for Revenge? Altruism and Emotion in Neuroeconomics. In: [2009] Southern Society for Philosophy and Psychology, 101st Annual Meeting (Savannah, GA April 9-11).

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    Abstract

    In order to understand the human capacity for altruism one requires a proper understanding of how people actually think and feel. This paper addresses the relevance that recent findings in neu-roeconomics may have for the philosophical controversy between altruism and egoism, with par-ticular emphasis on the importance of emotion in understanding altruistic motivation. After briefly contextualising and sketching the philosophical controversy, we survey the results of three interesting studies that provide stimulating clues for the debate. We focus our attention particu-larly on the 2004 study in neuroeconomics by Dominique de Quervain, Urs Fischbacher and col-leagues, which contains an argument in favour of psychological egoism. On the basis of an emo-tional account of decision-making, we show that their analysis of the results – people seek fair-ness – may be questioned; we propose an alternative interpretation of the data – people seek re-venge. Unfortunately, our ‘emotion-directed’ interpretation renders this study far less relevant for the debate over the possibility of psychological altruism than previously expected.


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    Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (UNSPECIFIED)
    Keywords: psychological altruism altruism neuroeconomics experimental economics
    Subjects: General Issues > Ethical Issues
    Specific Sciences > Cognitive Science
    Conferences and Volumes: [2009] Southern Society for Philosophy and Psychology, 101st Annual Meeting (Savannah, GA April 9-11)
    Depositing User: Christine Clavien
    Date Deposited: 06 Mar 2009
    Last Modified: 07 Oct 2010 11:17
    Item ID: 4492
    URI: http://philsci-archive.pitt.edu/id/eprint/4492

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