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Benevolence

Benevolence is defined, according to various dictionaries, as (1) “an inclination or tendency to help or do good to others” or, alternatively, as “a disposition to do good” or (2) “an act of kindness.” The word is also used to describe acts expressing goodwill or generosity toward others. “Benevolence” also applied in English history to a gift extorted by kings between the late 1400s and early 1600s.

Benevolence is to be distinguished from altruism, which implies self-sacrifice in favor of others. Consequently, the background assumptions behind benevolence suggest mutual gains in an inclusive, “positive-sum” (abundance) game of complementary interests, whereas altruism maintains an assumption that there is a substitutional trade-off between our conflicting interests in an exclusive, “zero-sum” (scarcity) game. The contextual frames on which these ...

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