Inspired by a book review of: The Origins of Virtue: Human Instincts and the Evolution of Cooperation by Matt Ridley Ridley suggests that altruism is instinctual. Cooperation and even self-sacrifice appear to Ridley to have evolved out of a need for and the instinct of survival of the species. This would put to rest the idea that all of our acts of selflessness are, ultimately, selfish acts - perhaps they are more than that. Perhaps they are instinctual reflexes that, through natural selection, have stayed with us and each of our billions of billions of cells from the dawn of time. What do you make of it? http://www.nybooks.com/articles/894 Its when we see one species of algae symbiotically benefiting a completely different species and visa versa that Smith's and/or Hamilton's "inclusive fitness" views are challenged. This is a heady but outragiously fascinating topic. And, I think, a timely one.