A Psychology of Freedom and Dignity: The Last Train to Survival

A Psychology of Freedom and Dignity: The Last Train to Survival

A Psychology of Freedom and Dignity: The Last Train to Survival

A Psychology of Freedom and Dignity: The Last Train to Survival


Harcum maintains that the proper assumptions about human nature are established by their relative utility in solving existing human problems. In order to facilitate solutions to familiar problems of daily living, the author advocates a definition of the science of psychology that includes the concepts of human freedom and intrinsic dignity. The author emphasizes the importance of the free will concept to behavioral scientists and practitioners as well as to citizens of the general population who, perhaps without realizing it, are forced users of behavioral science. The author's intention is to show that our cherished beliefs in the concepts of freedom and dignity are consistent with scientific principles and thus will become a vital part of a scientifically designed culture.


I four society is to survive, we must have a truly effective scientifically designed plan for cultural improvement. and we need the plan now, immediately, as a brief scan of any current newspaper will quickly prove. This book presumes that a culture crafted by design and based on sound psychological principles should be better than one simply evolving fortuitously. Moreover, an inclusive science of psychology, based on proper assumptions about the nature of human beings, must be an integral part of any such plan if we even hope to be successful.

Unfortunately, the application of psychological principles is hampered by the major issue dividing psychologists today--the doubt by some that human beings possess free will. For example, B. F. Skinner, the prestigious Harvard psychologist, contended that human behavior is completely controlled by genetic and environmental factors and argued that therefore our traditional and cherished beliefs in personal choice and human dignity are not reconcilable with the requirements of science. Skinner wanted to solve our social problems by simply managing behaviors entirely through contingent rewards.

Contrary to Skinner's famous proposal, this book argues that solutions to familiar problems of daily living depend upon a conception of behavioral science that is based not only on a belief in human choice but also on a belief in inherent human dignity. This is a commonsense approach that can be useful to all students and practitioners of psychology. and all of us are forced to use psychology--although sometimes unwittingly--by continual contact with other people.

Some may say that God already gave us a plan for human survival, and I agree. But God left it to us human beings to understand and to implement His . . .

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