A dramatic transformation has begun in the way scholars think about human nature. Political scientists, psychologists, economists, and evolutionary biologists are beginning to reject the view that human affairs are shaped almost exclusively by self-interest—a view that came to dominate social science in the last three decades.
In Beyond Self-Interest, leading social scientists argue for a view of individuals behavior and social organization that takes into account the powerful motivations of duty, love, and malevolence. Economists who go beyond "economic man," psychologists who go beyond stimulus-response, evolutionary biologists who go beyond the "selfish gene," and political scientists who go beyond the quest for power come together in this provocative and important manifesto.
The essays trace, from the ancient Greeks to the present, the use of self-interest to explain political life. They investigate the differences between self-interest and the motivations of duty and love, showing how these motivations affect behavior in "prisoners' dilemma" interactions. They generate evolutionary models that explain how altruistic motivations escape extinction.
They suggest ways to model within one individual the separate motivations of public spirit and self-interest, investigate public spirit and self-interest, investigate public spirit in citizen and legislative behavior, and demonstrate that the view of democracy in existing Constitutional interpretations is not based on self-interest. They advance both human evil and mothering as alternatives to self-interest, this last in a penetrating feminist critique of the "contract" model of human interaction.