Monday, December 2, 2013
The Fair Society by Peter Corning
My Facebook addiction has slowed my reading, but I'm still studying the human condition. Lately, due to all the cheating, fudging, squeezing, and consolidation of wealth and advantage to the few, I've become interested in how things could be improved for more folks in the USA. On the reading stand is:
The Fair Society: The Science of Human Nature and the Pursuit of Social Justice by Peter Corning
We’ve been told, again and again, that life is unfair. But what if we’re wrong simply to resign ourselves to this situation? What if we have the power—and more, the duty—to change society for the better?
We do. And our very nature inclines us to do so. That’s the provocative argument Peter Corning makes in The Fair Society. Drawing on the evidence from our evolutionary history and the emergent science of human nature, Corning shows that we have an innate sense of fairness. While these impulses can easily be subverted by greed and demagoguery, they can also be harnessed for good.
Corning brings together the latest findings from the behavioral and biological sciences to help us understand how to move beyond the Madoffs and Enrons in our midst in order to lay the foundation for a new social contract—a Biosocial Contract built on a deep understanding of human nature and a commitment to fairness. He then proposes a sweeping set of economic and political reforms based on three principles of fairness—equality, equity, and reciprocity—that together could transform our society and our world.
At this crisis point for capitalism, Corning reveals that the proper response to bank bailouts and financial chicanery isn’t to get mad -- it’s to get fair.
"Peter Corning paints a compelling picture of the excessive inequalities of income, wealth, and power in American society, and the damage they cause. More importantly, he makes a strong case for fairness - arguing that equality, equity, and reciprocity are central to humanity's social needs and collective flourishing." (Kate Pickett, coauthor of The Spirit Level: Why Greater Equality Makes Societies Stronger) "An edifying book.... I admire Peter Corning's attempt to develop a normative theory of justice that is 'built on an empirical foundation.'... One hopes that those who wish to occupy places of power on behalf of the 99 percent will heed Corning's sage advice about what to do and - just as important - what not to do in planning for a better, more just society." (American Scientist)"
About the Author
Peter Corning is the director of the Institute for the Study of Complex Systems, a one-time writer for Newsweek and professor at Stanford University, and the author of several books.