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David Sloan Wilson on Altruism

Tom Sutcliffe discusses altruism with Mexican campaigner Lydia Cacho, evolutionary biologist David Sloan Wilson, moral philosopher William MacAskill and composer Tansy Davies.

On Start the Week Tom Sutcliffe asks whether altruism is best explained through evolutionary science or moral philosophy. David Sloan Wilson argues for the former and believes altruism is part of group dynamics and social behaviour. William MacAskill may study the moral case for doing good, but is more interested in the practical impact than the heroic sacrifice. The Mexican campaigner Lydia Cacho knows what it means to make enormous personal sacrifices for the sake of others - her exposure of sexual and physical abuse has led to numerous threats on her life. While the composer Tansy Davies attempts to bring to the stage human beings in extremis as she creates an opera based on the events of 9/11.

Producer: Luke Mulhall.

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43 minutes

Last on

Mon 13 Apr 2015 21:30

David Sloan Wilson

David Sloan Wilson is president of the Evolution Institute and SUNY Distinguished Professor of Biology and Anthropology at Binghamton University.

Does Altruism Exist?: Culture, Genes, and the Welfare of Others is published by Yale University Press.

Lydia Cacho

Lydia Cacho is a Mexican writer, journalist and activist.

Lydia will be ‘In Conversation’ with Gaby Wood on Thursday 16 April at The London Book Fair.

The London Book Fair Mexico Market Focus 2015 - British Council Literature

Slavery Inc.: The Untold Story of International Sex Trafficking is published by Portobello Books.

William MacAskill

William MacAskill is co-founder of Giving What We Can and 80,000 Hours and is currently a Research Fellow in Philosophy at Emmanuel College, Cambridge.

Doing Good Better will be published in August.

Tansy Davies

Tansy Davies is a composer.

English National Opera’s Between Worlds is at the Barbican until Saturday 25 April.


Role Contributor
Presenter Tom Sutcliffe
Interviewed Guest Lydia Cacho
Interviewed Guest David Sloan Wilson
Interviewed Guest William MacAskill
Interviewed Guest Tansy Davies
Producer Luke Mulhall


  • Mon 13 Apr 2015 09:00
  • Mon 13 Apr 2015 21:30