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A Conflict of Visions: Ideological Origins of Political Struggles (Library Edition) Audio CD – Audiobook, Unabridged
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Copyright 1986 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Copyright 1987 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top Customer Reviews
These are just two of the questions tangentially answered by Thomas Sowell in this important book on the taxonomy and structure of our political debate. This work is sure to stand for the remainder of the century as *the* reference point from which dueling political frameworks are engaged.
Sowell's main thesis is that contrasting visions of human capability, knowledge, perfection, and self-interest underlie two very different visions of humanity, and it is on these visions that political ideology, debate, and worldview rest. Sowell's two visions are named, rather unhelpfully, the constrained and the unconstrained vision. No gold star here for Sowell on Marketing. So instead, I'll use Pinker's terminology, as I was introduced to this book via Steven Pinker's Blank Slate.
The Tragic (constrained) vision of human nature views man as possessing foibles, incentives, and the desire to act in his own self-interest. The Tragic "sees the evils of the world as deriving from the limited and unhappy choices available, given the inherent moral and intellectual limitations of human beings." Thus, the perfection of governance in the Tragic Vision is the American Revolution with its checks and balances. Further, history should guide us, as the unknowable tradeoffs between different policies and procedures have been ironed out through unstated practice.Read more ›
(1) Humans have generally selfish natures.
(2) Human reason, while valuable, is quite limited.
(3) Because of this, society grows by evolution, not central deliberate planning.
(4) Social decisions generally involve not 'solutions' but 'trade-offs' (how much good for how much downside?)
(5) Procedural fairness, rather than results-based fairness, is the key to a just society.
Conversely, Sowell writes that the liberal tradition operates on a vision of humankind that is 'unconstrained.' Features include:
(1)Human selfishness is a quality that can be overcome by reason and education.
(2) Human reason, when used properly, can trump human impulses, emotions, and feelings.
(3)The planned society is best. Non-planned societies = chaos.
(4) While policy trade-offs might be a good short term solution, reason can discover true solutions that are equitable to all.
(5)Procedural fairness is not fair so long as disperate outcomes result.
Sowell backs up his thesis with impressive research, citations, and quotes. This is refreshing becuase it makes sure he is not simply creating strawmen. From the conservative side, his quites tend to come from Edmunde Burke, Adam Smith, Freidrich Hayek, and Oliver Wendell Holmes. From the liberal side, his quotes tend to come from William Godwin, Marquis de Condorcet, Jean Jacques Rousseau, and Ronald Dworkin.Read more ›
The Constrained Vision more or less asserts that (1) human beings (whether individually or in groups (e.g., legislatures)) are incapable of broad knowledge (i.e., at the societal level) about the effects of their actions, that therefore societies are better off relying on structures (e.g., markets, cultural traditions) that in some sense collect (or in the case of traditions, have collected over time) the limited knowledge of many independent actors, (2) that the Law of Unintended Consequences is alive and well, (3) that human nature is basically self-oriented (if not downright selfish) and (4) that, because of these profound limitations, only suboptimal "trade-offs", not "solutions", are possible on most important social and political issues.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
It's party time! Who's here? Hm, looks like a lot of selfless Christians, a couple of military guys, and a bunch of rednecks grunting about guns and NASCAR. Yawn. Read morePublished 8 months ago by Jason Bowden
Excellent book, makes for great discussions. Delivered in great condition.Published 14 months ago by C Rogers
Dr Sowell is one of the greatest political minds of the last few decades!Published 17 months ago by YuppiePrepper
Perhaps the best tome on political philosophy ever published.Published 18 months ago by John Walker
Anything by Thomas Sowell is good and chock full of logic from cover to cover.This is Sowell at his best..Published 23 months ago by marilyn lata
Like everything from Sowell, this book is brilliant. It explores the intellectual differences between conservatives and progressives. Read morePublished on November 28, 2013 by Gregory Adams