Hello Pete, thanks for commenting.

I think it depends on how you define altruism. David Brooks (and many others) assume it is a form of selflessness, in which the altruist ends up in a “net worse” position after an altruistic act.

As I try to explain in my article, I do not subscribe to that view: when we do something for someone else, we do so because we get something in return (social capital, support for our genes, or simply a warm glow). So, giving money to charity is not really selfless, and therefore giving *more* money is not *more* selfless (and not altruistic in this sense).

You could argue that, even if you get more of a warm glow by giving more to charity, you would be more altruistic if you did so. But if – as I do – you don’t make a distinction between material benefits and non-material ones where trading is concerned, that would not be any different from someone selling ice cream who would be more altruistic if she sold *more* ice cream, even if she did so because she would earn more money that way.

Hope this clarifies!

Accidental behavioural economist in search of wisdom. Uses insights from (behavioural) economics in organization development. On Twitter as @koenfucius

Accidental behavioural economist in search of wisdom. Uses insights from (behavioural) economics in organization development. On Twitter as @koenfucius