[Coined by Auguste Comte (1798-1857) from French autrui, descended from Latin alter: other.]
(ethics) Regard for the welfare of other people (as opposed to one's own welfare) as the highest principle of action. While one could, in theory, describe altruism as a form of eudaimonism since it seeks to maximize happiness, eudaimonism is always taken to be a kind of individualism or egoism (and therefore in opposition to altruism). Strictly speaking, Kantianism and other forms of deontologism are not variants of altruism since they emphasize conformance with duty or moral law rather than concern for other people. In general, altruism emphasizes either the intent to benefit others (see intentionalism) or the practical result that one's actions do indeed benefit others (see consequentialism). Often altruistic doctrines are forms of universalism, as in utilitarianism (which holds that the highest ethical principle is "the greatest good for the greatest number"). The popular meaning of altruism is loosely connected to the philosophical meaning, and usually refers to an attitude of benevolence toward other people.
The Ism Book by Peter Saint-Andre
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