Rachlin: ALTRUISM AND SELFISHNESS: BBS Call for Commentators

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Oct 23, 2001, 6:06:50 PM10/23/01
Below is the abstract of a forthcoming BBS target article

Howard Rachlin


This article has been accepted for publication in Behavioral and Brain
Sciences (BBS), an international, interdisciplinary journal providing
Open Peer Commentary on important and controversial current research in
the biobehavioral and cognitive sciences.

Commentators must be BBS Associates or nominated by a BBS Associate. To
be considered as a commentator for this article, to suggest other
appropriate commentators, or for information about how to become a BBS
Associate, please reply by EMAIL within three (3) weeks to:


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on every occasion! Hence there is no need to reply except if you wish
to comment, or to nominate someone to comment.

If you are not a BBS Associate, please approach a current BBS
Associate (there are currently over 10,000 worldwide) who is familiar
with your work to nominate you. All past BBS authors, referees and
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If no current BBS Associate knows your work, please send us your
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To help you decide whether you would be an appropriate commentator for
this article, an electronic draft is retrievable from the online
BBSPrints Archive, at the URL that follows the abstract below.



Howard Rachlin
Psychology Department
State University of New York
Stony Brook, New York, 11794-2500

KEYWORDS: addiction, altruism, commitment, cooperation, defection,
egoism, impulsiveness, patterning, prisoner9s dilemma, reciprocatio
n, reinforcement, selfishness, self-control

ABSTRACT: Many situations in human life present choices between (a)
narrowly preferred particular alternatives and (b) narrowly less
preferred (or aversive) particular alternatives that nevertheless
form part of highly preferred abstract behavioral patterns. Such
alternatives characterize problems of self-control. Fo r example, at
any given moment, a person may accept alcoholic drinks yet also pref
er being sober to being drunk over the next few days. Other
situations present choices between (a) alternatives beneficial to an
individual and (b) alternative s that are less beneficial (or
harmful) to the individual that would nevertheless be beneficial if
chosen by many individuals. Such alternatives characterize problem s
of social cooperation; choices of the latter alternative are
generally considere d to be altruistic. Altruism, like self-control,
is a valuable temporally-extended pattern of behavior. Like
self-control, altruism may be learned and maintained o ver an
individual9s lifetime. It needs no special inherited mechanism.
Individual ac ts of altruism, each of which may be of no benefit (or
of possible harm) to the act or, may nevertheless be beneficial when
repeated over time. However, because each selfish decision is
individually preferred to each altruistic decision, people c an
benefit from altruistic behavior only when they are committed to an
altruistic pattern of acts and refuse to make decisions on a
case-by-case basis



Please do not prepare a commentary yet. Just let us know, after having
inspected it, what relevant expertise you feel you would bring to bear
on what aspect of the article. We will then let you know whether it was
possible to include your name on the final formal list of invitees.


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(3) Call for Book Nominations for BBS Multiple Book Review

In the past, Behavioral and Brain Sciences (BBS) had only been able
to do 1-2 BBS multiple book treatments per year, because of our
limited annual page quota. BBS's new expanded page quota will make
it possible for us to increase the number of books we treat per
year, so this is an excellent time for BBS Associates and
biobehavioral/cognitive scientists in general to nominate books you
would like to see accorded BBS multiple book review.

(Authors may self-nominate, but books can only be selected on the
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potential reviewers would be the best evidence of its potential

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PSYCOLOQUY is a refereed electronic journal (ISSN 1055-0143)
sponsored by the American Psychological Association

Submissions are acknowledged automatically.

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