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Description - The Heart of Altruism by Kristen Renwick Monroe

Is all human behaviour based on self-interest? Many social and biological theories would argue so, but such a perspective does not explain the many truly herioc acts committed by people willing to risk their lives in order to help others. In "The Heart of Altruism", Kristen Renwick Monroe boldly lays the groundwork for a social theory receptive to altruism by examining the experiences described by altruists themselves: from Otto, a German businessman who rescued over a hundred Jews in Nazi Germany, to Lucille, a newspaper poetry editor who, armed with her cane, saved a young girl who was being raped. Monroe's honest and moving interviews with these little-known heroes enable her to explore the causes of altruism and the differences between altruists and other people. By delineating an overarching perspective of humanity shared by altruists, Monroe demonstrates how social theories may begin to account for altruism and debunks the notions of scientific inevitability that stem from an overemphasis on self-interest. As Monroe has discoverd, the financial and religious back-grounds of altruists vary greatly - as do their views on issues such as welfare, civil rights, and morality. Altruists do, however, share a certain way of looking at the world: where the rest of us see a stranger, altruists see a fellow human being. It is this perspective that many social theories overlook. Monroe restores altruism to a general theory of ethical political behaviour. She argues that to understand what makes one person act out of concern for others and not the self, we need to ask how that individual's perspective sets the range of options he or she finds available.

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Book Details

ISBN: 9780691058474
ISBN-10: 0691058474
Format: Paperback
(235mm x 152mm x mm)
Pages: 312
Imprint: Princeton University Press
Publisher: Princeton University Press
Publish Date: 1-Jul-1998
Country of Publication: United States

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Author Biography - Kristen Renwick Monroe

Kristen Renwick Monroe is Professor of Politics and Associate Director of the Program in Political Psychology at the University of California, Irvine. She is the author of Presidential Popularity and the Economy and editor of The Economic Approach to Politics: A Critical Reassessment of the Theory of Rational Action and The Political Process and Economic Change.

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