Altruism, Morality, and the Morality of Altruism
his chapter focuses on the prospects for the sociology of altruism in the context of the relations between the notions of altruism and morality. For this purpose, I briefly discuss three problems that, I believe, are important for the sociological comprehension of altruism—namely, those of moral worth, moral boundaries, and impartiality. Ascribing moral worth to the acts of altruism is a plausible mechanism for a normative maintenance of unconditional helping, suggesting that human morality contains certain important layers beyond those explained by the evolutionary-utilitarian factors. The idea of moral boundaries denotes the social processes that restrict altruism to the people of particular backgrounds, groups, and identities. The impartiality of altruism, on the contrary, refers to the normative perspective that recognizes the interests of everyone affected by the action, and it arguably also plays an important part in making meaning of one’s life. I suggest that elaborating on these issues would considerably advance the sociological studies of altruism.