Barry Schwartz Lecture in Ames

As Dean Minow mentioned in her email, we are kicking off the Living Well in the Law Initiative this afternoon.

Please join us at 5pm in Ames to hear Barry Schwartz, Professor of Social Theory and Social Action, Swarthmore College speak on Practical Wisdom:  The Right way to do the Right Thing.  Dinner will be served.


Prof Schwartz is author of a number of books including:


The Paradox of Choice

As Americans, we assume that more choice means better options and greater satisfaction. But beware of excessive choice: choice overload can make you question the decisions you make before you even make them, it can set you up for unrealistically high expectations, and it can make you blame yourself for any and all failures. In the long run, this can lead to decision-making paralysis. And in a culture that tells us that there is no excuse for falling short of perfection when your options are limitless, too much choice can lead to clinical depression.


The Costs of Living: How Market Freedom Erodes the Best Things in Life

Americans have come to view more and more of their lives in free-market, economic terms. Market thinking has permeated education, the professions, sports, family and friendship, and politics. This book presents a criticism of this market view of life, arguing that most of what is good about education, medicine, law, sports, love, friendship, and democratic politics is undermined if the market gets too close to them. Indeed, even the market stops working if people behave in it in the way that economists say people always behave. Thus, the book argues, the market erodes the best things in life, and must be restrained, not encouraged, in its movement into places where it doesn’t belong. The book is aimed at a non-professional audience.

The Battle for Human Nature: Science, Morality and Modern Life

This book presents the view of human nature as entirely governed by self-interest that is shared by the disciplines of evolutionary biology, neoclassical economics, and behavioral psychology. It shows what these disciplines have in common in their approach to understanding human nature, and contrasts their view with most people’s everyday conceptions of what human nature is like. After presenting the theoretical perspectives of each of these disciples, the book turns a critical eye on them, and argues that their views are at best limited, and often simply wrong. However, the book finally argues, we cannot expect the errors of these disciplines to be self-correcting, for if people and the social institutions they live within come to believe these disciplines, then our social lives will come to look more and more like a confirmation of the picture of human nature that they paint. The last two chapters of the book sketch a picture of the mean-spirited world that would result if we took these disciplines to be telling us the truth about human beings. The style of the book is aimed at educated non-professionals

You can read more at I Dean of Students Office Web Page