Edited by Steven A. Peterson and Albert Somit
Chapter 23: The science of human nature and the social contract: a biological frame for public policy
One of the most urgent political challenges of our time is social justice, or fairness. In this chapter, I will advance a framework for guiding public policy that I call a ‘biosocial contract’, a social justice paradigm that is undergirded by the rapidly emerging, multidisciplinary science of human nature, which I will briefly overview. I will propose that a biosocial contract requires three empirically-grounded fairness precepts – equality, equity and reciprocity – that must be bundled together and balanced in order to achieve the goal of a ‘Fair Society’ (the title of my recent book on this subject). The obvious logical objection to such a paradigm, commonly referred to as the ‘naturalistic fallacy’, is briefly addressed from the perspective of the empirical problem of survival and reproduction and the fundamental nature of a human society as, quintessentially, a ‘collective survival enterprise’. To illustrate this new social justice framework, I will briefly consider the serious deficiencies of the United States and will compare the performance of this country to what has been called the ‘European Way’ – a model that comes much closer to achieving the objective of a fair society, with Norway as the premier example.
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