In “Babies show sense of fairness, altruism as early as 15 months” (University of Washington, Oct. 7, 2011), Molly McElroy reports,
A new study presents the first evidence that a basic sense of fairness and altruism appears in infancy. Babies as young as 15 months perceived the difference between equal and unequal distribution of food, and their awareness of equal rations was linked to their willingness to share a toy.
“Our findings show that these norms of fairness and altruism are more rapidly acquired than we thought,” said Jessica Sommerville, a UW associate professor of psychology who led the study.
“These results also show a connection between fairness and altruism in infants, such that babies who were more sensitive to the unfair distribution of food were also more likely to share their preferred toy,” she said.
UD News recommends that all studies of “altruism” be treated with caution because the behaviour measured is supposed to be common to humans, insects, and in one study even plants.
In other words, altruism is a materialist atheist substitute for compassion based on rational awareness of others, and identification with them – the quality most people believe is being studied. No, not at all. The researcher is more likely a Darwinist chasing the elusive selfish gene, which encodes behaviour in order to propagate itself. Or something similar.And “fairness,” as they understand it, is simply tit-for-tat, not a sense of justice as such – which is why it is so readily observed among animals. The trick is to keep the confusion going.
It’s doubtful that babies are cognitively developed enough to have complex relational capacities. For one thing, their entire life experience revolves around caregivers, fit or otherwise, and it isn’t until they become a bit more independent that they can have relationships that help develop these qualities (if they ever do). Unless we believe, of course, that all human behaviour is encoded in genes, and links us indissolubly to the great apes.
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