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By Colin Grant

Separated from its anchorage in faith, ethics has the social sciences in seeing people as essentially characterised via self-interest, in order that altruism is both naively idealistic or arrogantly self-sufficient. Colin furnish contends that, as a contemporary secular notion, altruism is a parody at the self-giving love of Christianity, in order that its dismissal represents a social leveling that loses the depths that theology makes intelligible and faith makes attainable. He argues that to dispense with altruism is to dispense with God and with the divine transformation of human probabilities.

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Altruism and Christian Ethics (New studies in Christian Ethics)

Separated from its anchorage in faith, ethics has the social sciences in seeing people as essentially characterised by means of self-interest, in order that altruism is both naively idealistic or arrogantly self-sufficient. Colin furnish contends that, as a contemporary secular notion, altruism is a parody at the self-giving love of Christianity, in order that its dismissal represents a social leveling that loses the depths that theology makes intelligible and faith makes attainable.

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26 Rather than a direct equation of altruism with the biological version of genetic processes, the explanation at that level, which rules out altruism by de®nition,27 expands to absorb the usual sense of the term; or, perhaps, more realistically, the ordinary sense of the term has been present all along. The scheme which attempts to explain away all altruism through the devices of kin selection and reciprocal altruism is the logical result. The repeated warnings that talk of altruism is metaphorical28 may begin to sound hollow in light of this crusade against all forms of altruism, but this ploy is even less credible when applied to the other side of the picture, the ascription of sel®shness.

It is hardly an exaggeration then, when Stephen J. ''55 It is not surprising either that sociobiology should corroborate this origin by re®ning the Darwinian direction in explicit economic cost-bene®t calculations. Whether this re¯ects an adequate understanding of either the natural or the human order, however, is another matter. the implausibility of non-natural altruism Even though it is altruism itself that is the target of sociobiology, and not simply the biological anomaly of reproductive altruism, according to some critics, this extravagance could be alleviated if only sociobiologists would recognize the uniquely human quality of altruism.

38 Alien altruism everyone is instinctively out for themselves. This instinctive aggression and acquisitiveness is only checked by a social contract whereby we relinquish some of our natural independence to a sovereign in exchange for the protection of that great Leviathan, the state. John Locke's democratization of the social contract provided an inspiration for the American constitution, with the result that it is dif®cult to know which is the more signi®cant factor in the shaping of America and the world it has pioneered, the economic version of self-interest articulated by Adam Smith or the political version drafted by Locke.

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