A Fundamental Mistake: Human Nature, Coercion and Bad Behaviour by Graham Cliff, Dr Graham Cliff
Does it puzzle you that, despite ever-increasing rules, controls and counter-measures, antisocial behaviour is seemingly spiralling out of control? Why have there been riots in Britain? Why is law enforcement failing to make our society a better place in which to live? Have our politicians lost the plot? Are our values wrong?
A Fundamental Mistake explains why a change of direction is needed in society's thinking about how to get people to behave themselves; it also offers a carefully argued strategy by which to achieve this. The emphasis needs to shift away from coercion and punishment, and towards inducement and reward. The remarkable thing is that although we already have the necessary knowledge, it's not put to good use. Taking a fresh approach, Graham Cliff draws on mainstream behavioural psychology and applied ethics to make his case for challenging some of our time-honoured cultural assumptions and practices. Be prepared to re-think your position.
Despite the weightiness of the subject, this is a book for everyone because it works up from first principles in a readily readable way. No expertise is needed to follow the flow from the basics of human nature to the way our minds work, then through the web of customs and rules that make up society, on to government, laws and punishment, and finally to how and why things might be done differently.
Nobody will agree with everything that A Fundamental Mistake has to say, because that's what debate is all about. However, it's as well to remember this: when it comes to tackling antisocial behaviour, it's not enough just to get tough - we must get clever, too.