Monday, December 8, 2008

Lecure of the Day- On Religion and Rational Control

Bradley Lecture by Harvey C. Mansfield;

Rational control is the subjection of society to reason as opposed to superstition, prejudice, or tradition, with the aim of getting us to behave better. Alexis de Tocqueville says this idea or practice began with the French monarchy; a more recent example is Nudge: Improving Decisions about Health, Wealth, and Happiness, by Cass R. Sunstein and Richard H. Thaler. Tocqueville thinks that rational control leads to 'mild despotism' of the kind he describes in Democracy in America, and he proposes an understanding of religion that would oppose it and provide an alternative that is more favorable to political liberty.

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