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Moving Beyond Self-InterestPerspectives from Evolutionary Biology, Neuroscience, and the Social Sciences$
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Stephanie L. Brown, R. Michael Brown, and Louis A. Penner

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780195388107

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2012

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195388107.001.0001

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Background and Historical Perspective

Background and Historical Perspective

1 Background and Historical Perspective
Moving Beyond Self-Interest

R. Michael Brown

Louis A. Penner

Stephanie L. Brown

Oxford University Press

This chapter provides readers with background information for the volume, Moving Beyond Self-Interest (S. Brown, R. Brown, & Penner, 2011), which describes new developments in theory and research on human caregiving from evolutionary, neuroscience, and social science perspectives. Scientific interest in caregiving and its motivation is rooted in philosophical thought, especially those ideas that address the phenomenon of altruism. The chapter traces historical roots of scientific attempts to understand altruism, considering the views of important visionaries like Charles Darwin and Peter Kropotkin, as well as contributions from more contemporary thinkers, including biologists William Hamilton, Robert Trivers, and David Sloan Wilson, and psychologists John Bowlby, Martin Hoffman, and Daniel Batson. The chapter’s conclusion underscores Berscheid and Collins’ (2000) clarion call for scientists to mount a serious effort to explore the ”caregiving construct”, and ends by noting that their call for action has not fallen on deaf ears. The cross-discipline efforts described in the Brown, et al. volume hold great potential for advancing our understanding of the caregiving system, extending the frontiers of behavioral science and public policy beyond self-interest, and addressing some of the most vexing problems ever to confront our species.

Keywords:   motivation, caregiving, caregiving system, altruism, evolution, neuroscience, social sciences, behavioral science, public policy, Darwin, Kropotkin, Bowlby, Batson

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