Hostname: page-component-6b989bf9dc-jks4b Total loading time: 0 Render date: 2024-04-13T20:44:02.284Z Has data issue: false hasContentIssue false

A “cohesive moral community” is already patrolling behavioral science1

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  08 September 2015

George Ainslie*
School of Economics, University of Cape Town, Rondebosch 7710, South Africa; and Department of Veterans Affairs, Coatesville Veterans Affairs Medical Center, Coatesville, PA 19320. George.Ainslie@va.gov


Authors of non-liberal proposals experience more collegial objections than others do. These objections are often couched as criticism of determinism, reductionism, or methodological individualism, but from a scientific viewpoint such criticism could be easily answered. Underneath it is a wish to harness scientific belief in service of positive social values, at the cost of reducing objectivity.

Open Peer Commentary
Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2015 

Access options

Get access to the full version of this content by using one of the access options below. (Log in options will check for institutional or personal access. Content may require purchase if you do not have access.)



This material is the result of work supported with resources and the use of facilities at the Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center, Coatesville, PA, and is thus not subject to copyright in the United States. The opinions expressed are not those of the Department of Veterans Affairs or of the U.S. Government.


Ainslie, G. (2013) Cold climates demand more intertemporal self-control than warm climates. Behavioral and Brain Sciences 36(5):481–82. doi:10.1017/S0140525X13000022.Google Scholar
Allik, J. & Realo, A. (2013) How is freedom distributed across the earth? Behavioral and Brain Sciences 36(5):482–83.Google Scholar
Atran, S. & Norenzayan, A. (2004) Religion's evolutionary landscape: Counterintuition, commitment, compassion, communion. Behavioral and Brain Sciences 27(6):713–70.Google Scholar
Haidt, J. (2012) The righteous mind: Why good people are divided by politics and religion. Pantheon Books.Google Scholar
Hammersley, R. & Reid, M. (2002) Why the pervasive addiction myth is still believed. Addiction Research and Theory 10:730.Google Scholar
Hayden, E. C. (2013) Taboo genetics. Nature 502:2628.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Heyman, G. M. (2009) Addiction: A disorder of choice. Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
Laland, K. N. & Brown, G. (2011) Sense and nonsense: Evolutionary perspectives on human behaviour, 2nd edition. Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
Marsh, A. A., Stoycos, S. A., Brethel-Haurwitz, K. M., Robinson, P., VanMeter, J. W. & Cardinale, E. M. (2014) Neural and cognitive characteristics of extraordinary altruists. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA 111(42):15036–41.Google Scholar
Miller, W. R. (2003) Comments on Ainslie and Monterosso. In: Choice, behavioural economics, and addiction, ed. Vuchinich, R. & Heather, N., pp. 6266. Pergamon.Google Scholar
Müller, C. P. & Schumann, G. (2011) Drugs as instruments: A new framework for non-addictive psychoactive drug use. Behavioral and Brain Sciences 34(6):293310.Google Scholar
Nell, V. (2006) Cruelty's rewards: The gratifications of perpetrators and spectators. Behavioral and Brain Sciences 29(3):211–57.Google Scholar
Roizen, R. (1987) The great controlled-drinking controversy. In: Recent developments in alcoholism, vol. 5, ed. Galanter, M., pp. 245–87. Plenum Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Ross, D. (2014) Philosophy of economics. Palgrave.Google Scholar
Sawyer, R. K. (2002) Emergence in psychology: Lessons from the history of non-reductionist science. Human Development 45:228.Google Scholar
Segerstråle, U. (2000) Defenders of the truth: The battle for science in the sociobiology debate and beyond. Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
Udehn, L. (2001) Methodological individualism. Routledge.Google Scholar
Van de Vliert, E. (2013) Climato-economic habitats support patterns of human needs, stresses, and freedoms. Behavioral and Brain Sciences 36(5):465521; discussion 480–515.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Wilson, E. O. (1975) Sociobiology. Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
Wu, K. C.-C. (2011) Governing drug use through neurobiological subject construction: The sad loss of the sociocultural. Behavioral and Brain Sciences 34(6):327–28.Google Scholar