Sunday, September 18, 2011

Essay Wins First Prize in New Threats To Freedom Essay Contest

My entry, An Old Threat in a New Garb, was awarded First Prize in the New Threats to Freedom essay contest. The entry was a response to Christine Rosen's The New Behaviorists, an essay included in The New Threats to Freedom book. The original essay discussed how behavioral science is a growing threat to freedom, as policymakers attempt to rely upon "expert" knowledge to legislate individuals' behaviors.

The response argued that behavioral science is not intrinsically bad, but instead a new tool that is sometimes used for age-old purposes of control. Tracing the history of increasing government from FDR, the argument holds that "ideology of centralized elite-run planning has since remained a staple of the American landscape." While this ideology ebbs and flows in intensity of implementation and precise form, it has consistently been utilized by various policymakers.

Behavioral science is the newest form of this desire to control. But as the essay argues, proponents of freedom should be careful to avoid disparaging the science because of its inappropriate use.  Behavioral science has much to offer and should not quickly be dismissed.

The full text of the essay can be read at New Threats to Freedom.

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