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Chapter 22 - How Lives Turn Out

Genes, Environment, and Luck – What We Can and Cannot Control

from Part IV - Scientia Humanitatis: Reflections on Scientific Humanism

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  28 February 2020

Michael Shermer
Affiliation:
Chapman University, California
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Summary

Long-time readers of my work will note a shift in my political orientation in earlier essays in this volume, from libertarian to classical liberal. The differences are not huge, but neither are they trivial, especially when it comes to fiscal issues. As I’ve gown older, and especially since the Great Recession of 2008/2009, it has become abundantly clear to me that human nature is darker than I previously realized. As well, there is the issue of what moral obligation we have to help those who cannot help themselves, most notably as it relates to social spending. I’ve come to realize just how unfortunate life can be for a sufficiently large number of people that I no longer think that private charity alone can do the job of shoring up a social safety net for the unlucky. The deeper I looked into the matter of how lives turn out, the more I realized how much is out of our control. This essay, an expansion of that Scientific American column that was originally published in Quillette January, 2019, is a result of my continued research on the subject of, as the above title notes, how lives turn out.

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Chapter
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Giving the Devil his Due
Reflections of a Scientific Humanist
, pp. 254 - 266
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2020

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  • How Lives Turn Out
  • Michael Shermer, Chapman University, California
  • Book: Giving the Devil his Due
  • Online publication: 28 February 2020
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/9781108779395.023
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  • How Lives Turn Out
  • Michael Shermer, Chapman University, California
  • Book: Giving the Devil his Due
  • Online publication: 28 February 2020
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/9781108779395.023
Available formats
×

Save book to Google Drive

To save content items to your account, please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account. Find out more about saving content to Google Drive.

  • How Lives Turn Out
  • Michael Shermer, Chapman University, California
  • Book: Giving the Devil his Due
  • Online publication: 28 February 2020
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/9781108779395.023
Available formats
×