Mr. Alexander - "Denis" if you like - is The Emeritus Director of the Faraday Institute for Science and Religion at St. Edmund's College Cambridge. (Presumbly their St. Edmund is the Bury St. Edmunds Edmund, at one time our patron saint.) Mr. Alexander has written in to tell us that J.B.S. Haldane - who became completely bald by 1939 - remarked that he would jump into a river and risk his life to save two of his brothers, but not one. And that he would jump in to save eight cousins, but not seven. How about members? Would they take steps to save their sisters? Does the principle of indirect reciprocity apply to them?
Mr. Alexander goes on with some useful reminders concerning the use of language. Reciprocal altruism, he avers, is not really altruism, but prudence. Sacrifice for a group is tribalism, not altruism. Kin selection is a form of nepotism. "If agape is confused with eros, the evolutionary adaptation that underlies game theory, then confusion is bound to follow. In fact evolution does not create agape, but, rather, divine Agape creates evolution, which in turn makes human agape possible."
So let our "national" governments close the banks, abolish "money," and on our behalf apply all their resources to the assistance of strangers elsewhere in the world less fortunate than we!
Well, my mother once told me that blood's thicker than water, which suggests that you should sometimes give priority to family. In my experience, however, family can be something of a pain, depending upon the circumstances. As for money, it seems to me to be something of an abstraction, so you could, at least in principle, replace it with another abstraction, whether agape or God(s) or something else entirely?