Human nature, time and tourism

Organiser: University of Sunderland

Visiting Professoriate Inaugural Lecture Series 2022

About this event

‘Human nature, time, and tourism’ by Professor Elena Cavagnaro

In 1996 Przeclawski stated that ‘Tourism cannot be explained unless we understand man, the human being’. In other words, to understand tourism we need to understand human nature first and, more specifically, we need to answer the question whether humans can take other people’s interests into account when acting (think for example of the interests of a tourism destination’s inhabitants and its natural environment).

I am not the first to be concerned with these questions and am greatly indebted to Professor David Fennel’s discussion of them in Tourism Ethics and in a recent webinar on reciprocal altruism and tourism that he co-hosted. Yet, I claim that we need to go further than his and other scholars’ understanding of reciprocal altruism in tourism. Particularly, we need to challenge two statements. First, that self-interest is the default mode of operation of individual human beings. Second, that time is a critical component of reciprocal altruism and that – as time is more and more lacking in modern tourism encounters – the odds are against acts of reciprocal altruism in tourism.

To challenge these statements, I will intertwine evolution theory and universal value theory with a philosophical perspective on human nature and time. Finally, to quote Professor Frans de Waal, I will argue that we need to defy the sociobiological perspective on reciprocal altruism by ‘putting the altruism back into altruism’.

In short, this lecture will challenge your view on human nature, on the nature of time, and consequently on the likelihood that hosts, and guests will engage in altruistic acts in time-bound tourism encounters.

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