Bring Back the Moral Wrestler
Each branch of social science bears within it an implicit characterization of human nature. To an economist, humans are self-interest maximizers; to a behavioral economist, they are hopelessly irrational; to an anthropologist, they are products of a cultural time and place; to a sociologist, they are units in broad social webs and power structures; and so on. Each discipline makes a contribution to the aggregated conception of what constitutes human nature, but none can convincingly account for humans as “moral wrestlers,” as creatures that are concerned about themselves as well as questions of right versus wrong. Historically, the world’s major religions have carried the torch for man’s moral nature. Since the Enlightenment project has not sent religion off into obsolescence as promised, the practitioners of human-based sciences can still today learn from the religious conception of humans as moral wrestlers. This chapter calls on social scientists to break with their disciplines’ consensuses and refocus their image of human nature.
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