altruism LO28529

From: AM de Lange (
Date: 05/17/02

Replying to LO28516 --

Dear Organlearners,

Doug Merchant <> writes upon my:

>>... I always feel uncomfortable when a person articulates
>>the LO as if it is a "self-interest system". The LO is
>>definitely not for me a "self-interest system", but rather
>>almost like an "altruistic system". I had to add the "almost"
>>because there is something else which I cannot put my
>>mental finger on at this moment.
>As an example of a commitment problem, imagine "a
>kidnapper who suddenly gets cold feet. He wants to set his
>victim free, but is afraid he will go to the police. In return for
>his freedom, the victim gladly promises not to do so. The
>problem, however, is that both realize it will no longer be
>in the victim's interest to keep this promise once he is free.
>And so the kidnapper reluctantly concludes that he must
>kill him." --- Thomas Schelling cited by Robert Frank in
>"Passions Within Reason: The Strategic Roles of the Emotions".
>Robert Frank argues that altruistic behavior and emotions
>are related to the involuntary mechanisms that signal trust
>worthiness and enables the solution these types of commitment
>contracting problems.

Greetings dear Doug,

Thank you for this information. It helped met to put my mental finger on
what I knew tacitly.

Altruistic deeds are vulnerable because they involve trust. However,
should i distinguish between trust and trustworthyness, i may diminish
this vulnerability by seeking for trustworthyness rather than trust.

I do not say that others must make this distinction. I had to make this
distinction more than thirty years ago when I accidently stepped on the
toes of a secret society. Even in altruistic deeds I got knives stuck into
my back. I had to learn the hard way not to trust people blindly, but seek
the trustworthyness in those who I need not to be cautious with.

With care and best wishes


At de Lange <> Snailmail: A M de Lange Gold Fields Computer Centre Faculty of Science - University of Pretoria Pretoria 0001 - Rep of South Africa

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