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Altruism UPSC NOTE

 What is altruism

  • Altruism is the principle and practice of concern for the well-being and/or happiness of other humans or animals above oneself

  • While objects of altruistic concern vary, it is an important moral value in many cultures and religions. 

  • It may be considered a synonym of selflessness

Examples of Altruism in Nature

  • Worker honey bees devote their entire life to foraging and caring for their sister, the queen, and her offspring, but do not themselves reproduce. 

  • In widow spiders, a male allows a female fertilised by him to eat him, and thus nourish herself and her offspring. 

  • A meerkat, a mongoose found in Africa, assumes the role of a sentinel, perching itself on a mound or rock, keeping a lookout for predators, instead of foraging for food, while the rest of the clan is feeding. If a predator is sighted, it alerts the others

Green-Beard Genes

  • Research studies on social amoeba Dictyostelium discoideum (show altruism) to study the  emergence of altruism in all these diverse forms 

  • The take-home message of these studies is that if a gene makes a worker bee altruistic, it also helps the copy of the gene in the queen and her offspring to be passed on to the next generation, even if the worker herself does not reproduce.

  • Such so-called ‘green-beard’ genes allow the individuals bearing them to recognise and preferentially cooperate with each other.

  • Alternatively, a green-beard gene could provoke individuals to behave harmfully towards those carrying a different version of the gene.

  • Thus, scientists have postulated, green-beard genes encode some kind of tag that helps the genome to know their identity (i.e. self-recognition).

How altruism can evolve in nature

  • As far as we know, amoebae use their rapidly evolving genes to estimate kinship with other amoebae

  • If the genes have not diverged at all, or have diverged very little, there is kinship and it is good to cooperate

  • If they have diverged significantly, there is less kinship and hence cooperation is risky

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Learnerz IAS | Concept oriented UPSC Classes in Malayalam: Altruism UPSC NOTE
Altruism UPSC NOTE
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