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The necessity of kindness: Altruism in animals and beyond

Evolutionary biologist and historian of science Prof Lee Dugatkin joins Dr Andi Horvath to discuss displays of altruism in insects, animals and humans, and how the often harsh evolutionary imperatives of survival can actually accommodate, promote or depend on acts of kindness and justice.

The full text of this article can be purchased from Informit.

ANDI HORVATH

Hi. I'm Dr Andi Horvath. Thanks for joining us. Today we get up close to the roots of altruism and the notions of goodness and empathy. Altruism is not just a human trait. Animals and insects also exhibit forms of it. Animals on the lookout for predators often raise the alarm call to their fellows but by doing so they draw attention to themselves, putting themselves at risk of becoming someone else's lunch. If you think about it the behaviour of altruism is diametrically opposed to the evolutionary imperatives of survival of the fittest and the notion of the selfish gene. So how do we explain altruism's adaptive role? What is the real utility of generosity of spirit?

To untangle this quandary and explore the evolutionary roots of goodness, empathy and justice is our guest evolutionary biologist, Professor Lee Dugatkin from the University of Louisville in the US. He is currently also a Miegunyah Fellow at the University of Melbourne. Lee welcome.

LEE DUGATKIN

Thank you very much. It's a pleasure to be here.

ANDI HORVATH

Now humans are capable of altruism. They can express the value of altruism to each other. But how does this express
itself...

The full text of this article can be purchased from Informit.