Contemporary law and public policy often treat human beings as selfish creatures who respond only to punishments and rewards. Yet every day we behave unselfishly--few of us mug the elderly or steal the paper from our neighbor's yard, and many of us go out of our way to help strangers. We nevertheless overlook our own good behavior and fixate on the bad things people do and how we can stop them. In this pathbreaking book, acclaimed law and economics scholar Lynn Stout argues that this focus neglects the crucial role our better impulses could play in society. Rather than lean on the power of greed to shape laws and human behavior, Stout contends that we should rely on the force of conscience.
Stout makes the compelling case that conscience is neither a rare nor quirky phenomenon, but a vital force woven into our daily lives. Drawing from social psychology, behavioral economics, and evolutionary biology, Stout demonstrates how social cues--instructions from authorities, ideas about others' selfishness and unselfishness, and beliefs about benefits to others--have a powerful role in triggering unselfish behavior. Stout illustrates how our legal system can use these social cues to craft better laws that encourage more unselfish, ethical behavior in many realms, including politics and business. Stout also shows how our current emphasis on self-interest and incentives may have contributed to the catastrophic political missteps and financial scandals of recent memory by encouraging corrupt and selfish actions, and undermining society's collective moral compass.
This book proves that if we care about effective laws and civilized society, the powers of conscience are simply too important for us to ignore.
|Publisher:||Princeton University Press|
|Edition description:||New Edition|
|Product dimensions:||5.60(w) x 8.50(h) x 1.20(d)|
About the Author
Lynn Stout is the Paul Hastings Professor of Corporate and Securities Law at the UCLA School of Law. She is the coauthor of several books and a frequent commentator for NPR, PBS, and the Wall Street Journal.
Table of Contents
Chapter 1: Franco's Choice 3
Chapter 2: Holmes' Folly 23
Chapter 3: Blind to Goodness: Why We Don't See
Chapter 4: Games People Play: Unselfish Prosocial
Behavior in Experimental Gaming 75
Chapter 5: The Jekyll/Hyde Syndrome: A Three-Factor
Social Model of Unselfish Prosocial Behavior 94
Chapter 6: Origins 122
Chapter 7: My Brother's Keeper: The Role of
Unselfishness in Tort Law 151
Chapter 8: Picking Prosocial Partners: The Story of
Relational Contract 175
Chapter 9: Crime, Punishment, and Community 200
Conclusion Chariots of the Sun 233
Works Cited 281
What People are Saying About This
With evident pride in their own tough-mindedness, rational choice theorists have long insisted that people are self-interested in the narrow sense. Lynn Stout's tough-minded book should persuade all but the most stubborn of them to rethink their skepticism. The rest of us will find useful guidance for how to restructure environments to help bring out the best in everyone.
Robert H. Frank, author of "The Economic Naturalist"
This concise book makes meaningful linkages between social science work and basic areas of the law in ways that will engage and resonate with general readers. Cultivating Conscience offers much food for reflection.
Robert C. Clark, Harvard Law School
Lynn Stout's rich and thought-provoking book explores the full spectrum of human behavior, from selfishness to self-sacrifice. Her insights will fascinate anyone interested in the law, economics, psychology, and everyday human existence.
Jared Diamond, author of "Guns, Germs, and Steel" and "Collapse"