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Biology and Freedom : An Essay on the Implications of Human Ethology - S. A. Barnett

Biology and Freedom

An Essay on the Implications of Human Ethology

Hardcover

Published: 8th November 2011
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Biology and Freedom is an essay on human nature; an attempt to make a just assessment of a species often presented as predominantly and unavoidably violent, greedy, and stupid. Likening human beings to animals is a traditional method of influencing attitudes on questions of morals and politics. Here, Professor Barnett shows that modern ethology, experimental psychology, genetics, and evolutionary theory give the currently fashionable misanthrophy no authentic support. He asks whether the theory of evolution has any bearing on, for instance, Machiavellianism in politics or the concept of original sin; and whether laboratory experiments on the effects of reward and punishment tell us anything useful about why we work, or about the enigma of free will. Combining the findings of modern biology with logic and humor, Professor Barnett gives a lucid alternative portrait of humanity. He stresses the questions that the complexities of human existence will raise long after the currently fashionable theories have faded. All those interested in these questions, in the truth about human nature, and in the future of human society will want to read this book.

"[Biology and Freedom] goes beyond the mere debunking of certain popular biologistic follies, to offer instead a vision of a humanity set free by our very biological situation...Barnett remains unshakeably a progressive." Nature "The importance of Barnett's book is that it was written by a practising scientist who fully accepts the role of reductionism in science. His main message is an indictment of the techniques and results of scientific reductionism as tools for use in social engineering and to explain (or, rather, to explain away) those instincts of ethics and morality in persons and communitites which could be called the art of living. Lord Eric Ashby "Every reader will admire the breadth of Barnett's scholarship." Robert Hinde, MRC Unit on the Development and Integration of Behavior "The book are a whole is an eloquent plea for the humanness and humaness of human beings. It is accessible to the general reader and enjoyable for its gracefulness of style and liberal use of literary and historical references."--Bioscience

List of illustrations
Preface
Acknowledgements
An Introduction
Four portraits
The pessimistic tradition
Animals and analogy
Homo pugnax: the violent species
Communication and instinct
The aggression labyrinth
Homo egoisticus: the selfish species
Evolution and natural selection
Environment and heredity
Stories of human evolution
Darwinism, genetics and politics
Homo operans: the greedy species
Conditioning and improvisation
Work and play
Homo sapiens: the human species
The reductionist imperative
Human communication
Teaching and tradition
The question
Glossary
Notes
References
Name index
Subject index
Table of Contents provided by Publisher. All Rights Reserved.

ISBN: 9780521353168
ISBN-10: 0521353165
Audience: Professional
Format: Hardcover
Language: English
Number Of Pages: 396
Published: 8th November 2011
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Country of Publication: GB
Dimensions (cm): 24.6 x 18.9  x 2.2
Weight (kg): 0.83