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A Conflict of Visions: Ideological Origins of Political Strugglesby Thomas Sowell
Synopses & Reviews
In this classic work, Thomas Sowell analyzes the two competing visions that shape our debates about the nature of reason, justice, equality, and power: the constrained” vision, which sees human nature as unchanging and selfish, and the unconstrained” vision, in which human nature is malleable and perfectible. He describes how these two radically opposed views have manifested themselves in the political controversies of the past two centuries, including such contemporary issues as welfare reform, social justice, and crime. Updated to include sweeping political changes since its first publication in 1987, this revised edition of A Conflict of Visions offers a convincing case that ethical and policy disputes circle around the disparity between both outlooks.
Book News Annotation:
Sowell (Hoover Institution, Stanford U.) makes the case that all political differences have their root in two, mutually antagonistic views of human nature. One view, frequently evoked by left-wing thinkers, suggests that man is perfectible and is labeled "unconstrained." The "constrained" view, advocated by F.A. Hayek, Edmund Burke, Adam Smith and others, sees man as essentially selfish. A supporter of the "constrained" version himself, Sowell looks at how the competing visions influence ideas on social processes and theories of knowledge and reason. He then explores how the competing perspectives condition questions of equality, power, and justice.
Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
About the Author
Thomas Sowell has taught economics at a number of colleges and universities, including Cornell, University of California Los Angeles, and Amherst. He has published both scholarly and popular articles and books on economics, and is currently a scholar in residence at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University.
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