Biology and Freedom: An Essay on the Implications of Human Ethology

Couverture
Cambridge University Press, 1988 - 376 pages
Biology and Freedom, first published in 1989, is an essay on human nature: an attempt to make a just assessment of a species often presented as predominantly and unavoidably violent, grasping, selfish and stupid. Likening human beings to animals is a traditional method of influencing attitudes on morals and politics. But in this book Professor Barnett shows that modern ethology, experimental psychology, genetics and evolutionary theory give the now fashionable misanthropy no authentic support. In doing so he asks whether the theory of evolution has any bearing on Machiavellianism in politics or the concept of original sin; and whether laboratory experiments on the effects of reward and punishment tell us anything about the enigma of free will. Combining the findings of biology with logic and humour, Professor Barnett gives a lucid alternative portrait of humanity in which he stresses the questions that the complexities of human existence will raise long after current myths have faded. This book is for all interested in human nature and the future of human society.
 

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Table des matières

Four portraits
1
Ancient pessimism
7
Animals and analogy
16
Homology
23
Communication and instinct
33
Territory
41
The law of the jungle
48
The limitations of ethology
54
A paradox
138
Education and intelligence
146
Britain and the USA
153
After Hitler
160
Equality
170
Conditionmgand improvisation
177
Work and play
207
The reductionist imperative
229

The aggression labyrinth
56
Evolution and natural selection
80
Questions on variation
86
The contribution of sociobiology
92
Design or tinkering?
98
Racial differences
107
Not in our stars
113
Our neighbors and our kin
124
The popular imperative
131
Human communication
251
Teaching and tradition
270
The question
284
Glossary
303
Notes
316
References
336
Name index
361
Subject index
369
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