Altruism is selfless concern for the welfare of others. It is a traditional virtue in many cultures, and central to many religious traditions. In English, this idea was often described as the Golden rule of ethics.
Some newer philosophies such as egoism have criticized the concept, with writers such as Nietzsche arguing that there is no moral obligation to help others. Altruism can be distinguished from a feeling of loyalty and duty.
Altruism focuses on a motivation to help others or a want to do good without reward, while duty focuses on a moral obligation towards a specific individual (for example, God, a king), a specific organization (for example, a government), or an abstract concept (for example, patriotism etc). Some individuals may feel both altruism and duty, while others may not.
Pure altruism is giving without regard to reward or the benefits of recognition. The concept has a long history in philosophical and ethical thought, and has more recently become a topic for psychologists, sociologists, evolutionary biologists, and ethologists.