Can Altruism Survive in Competitive Environments? Part II

Can Altruism Survive in Competitive Environments? Part II


In evolutionary terms, altruists gain advantage by being able to identify, and interact selectively with, one another. Implicit in this view is the need to avoid interacting with opportunists. What does the Tibetan Buddhist tradition say about avoiding people of bad character?

Evolutionary accounts stress the advantage not only of altruistic motives but also of vengeful ones, as a means to deter aggression in circumstances in which mere threats would otherwise not be credible. How does the Tibetan Buddhist tradition deal with the problem of deterring aggression?

  • Dialogue 5
    2 sessions
  • October 6, 1995
    Dharamsala, Himachal Pradesh, India
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Robert H. Frank

Robert H. Frank (USA, 1945) received his Ph.D. in economics in 1972 from U.C. Berkeley. He holds a joint appointment as Professor of Economics in Cornell University's Johnson Graduate School of Management and as Goldwin Smith Professor of Economics, Ethics, and Public Policy in Cornell's College of Arts and Sciences, where he has taught since 1972. His books include: Choosing the Right Pond: Human Behavior and the Quest for Status (Oxford University Press, 1985); Passions Within Reason: The Strategic Role of the Emotions (W. W. Norton, 1988); Microeconomics and Behavior (McGraw-Hill, 1991); and The Winner-Take-All Society (with Philip Cook, The Free Press, 1995). Besides teaching at Cornell, he taught math and science as a Peace Corps Volunteer in rural Nepal from 1966 to 1968; he served as chief economist for the Civil Aeronautics Board from 1978 to 1980; and during the 1992-93 academic year, he was a Fellow at the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences.