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October 26, 2008, 2:30 PM


Participants: Robert Frank, Rabbi Philip Hiat, David Kirkpatrick (moderator), Jay Phelan, Lawrence Tancredi

Pagan myths, fairy tales, and biblical stories portray a universe of sin and retribution, in which greed often plays a central role. For a trait to be so pervasive and persistent, it must have important neurobiological and psychological bases. Wanting food or sex is important for survival, but when does wanting become excessive? Additionally, what we call greed can be broken down into rivalry, competitiveness, aggression, insecurity, grandiosity, and poorly controlled urges, including desires to be successful, to be part of an elite club, to be admired. This roundtable will discuss the many facets of greed, its relation to bodily instincts, interpersonal behavior, consciousness and brain functioning, as well as its consequences when it is allowed to flourish. Panelists will also take into account the acquisitive impulses that have contributed to the current financial crisis.

Robert Frank is Visiting Professor of Business Ethics at New York University Stern School of Business. He is the Henrietta Johnson Louis Professor of Management and Professor of Economics at Cornell's Johnson Graduate School of Management. Professor Frank's "Economic View" column appears bimonthly in The New York Times. His papers have appeared in The American Economic Review, Econometrica, Journal of Political Economy, and other leading professional journals. He is the author of several books, including Choosing the Right Pond, Passions Within Reason, Microeconomics and Behavior, Luxury Fever, What Price the Moral High Ground?, Falling Behind, and The Economic Naturalist. The Winner-Take-All Society, co-authored with Philip Cook, received a Critic's Choice Award, was named a Notable Book of the Year by The New York Times, and was included in BusinessWeek's list of the ten best books of 1995.

Rabbi Philip Hiat is a scholar in residence at Central Synagogue in New York. He is also Professor of Religion at Marymount Manhattan College, and has been a visiting professor at Warsaw University in the Department of Semiotics. He has bibliographed the Judaica of the Vatican Library.

David Kirkpatrick (moderator) is Senior Editor for Internet and Technology at Fortune magazine and specializes in the computer and technology industries, as well as in the impact of the Internet on business and society. He is currently on leave from the magazine while writing a book about Facebook for Simon & Schuster.

Jay Phelan has been on the faculty of the UCLA Life Sciences Core Program since 1997, specializing in evolutionary biology, human behavior, and genetics. He is co-author of the international bestseller, Mean Genes, the forthcoming What is Life? A Guide to Biology, and more than twenty technical publications. He has served as an instructor at the FBI's Behavioral Analysis Program, his research has been funded by the National Science Foundation and he has appeared on ABC's Nightline, CNN with Paula Zahn, the BBC, and National Public Radio's Talk of the Nation. His work has been featured in USA Today, The Los Angeles Times, MSNBC, and Elle, as well as in more than a hundred newspapers. He is the recipient of more than a dozen teaching awards.

Laurence Tancredi, a psychiatrist-lawyer, is Clinical Professor of Psychiatry at New York University School of Medicine. He is the author or coauthor of numerous articles and several books on topics in law, ethics, and psychiatry, including Dangerous Diagnostics: The Social Power Of Biological Information (with Dorothy Nelkin), When Law and Medicine Meet: A Cultural View (with Lola Romanucci-Ross), and his most recent book, Behavior: What Neuroscience Reveals About Morality. His primary areas of research have included using Positron Emission Tomography (PET Scans) to study the neural substrates of violent men, and developing a no-fault medical injury compensation system, which was the subject of a major study by the American Bar Association's Committee on Medical professional Liability. Tancredi has a private practice in New York City and works as a forensic psychiatric consultant.


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