The Battle for Human Nature: Science, Morality, and Modern Life

Barry Schwartz, Author W. W. Norton & Company $17.95 (348p) ISBN 978-0-393-02319-0
Are people basically selfish creatures out to further their own interests and goals? In this brilliant investigation, Schwartz (Psychology of Learning and Behavior, etc.), a Swarthmore psychology professor, exposes the hidden assumptions that cause modern economists, behavioral psychologists and sociobiologists to form incomplete impressions of human beings and reply ""yes'' to the above question. Making sense of individuals' economic activity, he argues, requires knowledge of their noneconomic motives. Behaviorists do not find ``order in chaos'' so much as they create it by imposing a narrow frame of reference. Sociobiologists' clever theories equating human sexuality and aggression with animal behavior leave out the cultural dimension entirely. After identifying biases that link these disciplines, Schwartz goes on to ponder the threat economic imperialism poses to democratic institutions and our sense of social concern. (May 27)
Reviewed on: 05/01/1986
Release date: 05/01/1986
Genre: Nonfiction
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