What We Are Reading Today: Just Hierarchy

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Updated 15 March 2020

What We Are Reading Today: Just Hierarchy

Authors: Daniel A. Bell and Wang Pei

All complex and large-scale societies are organized along certain hierarchies, but the concept of hierarchy has become almost taboo in the modern world. Just Hierarchy contends that this stigma is a mistake, says a review on the Princeton University Press website. In fact, as Daniel Bell and Wang Pei show, it is neither possible nor advisable to do away with social hierarchies. Drawing their arguments from Chinese thought and culture as well as other philosophies and traditions, Bell and Wang ask which forms of hierarchy are justified and how these can serve morally desirable goals. They look at ways of promoting just forms of hierarchy while minimizing the influence of unjust ones, such as those based on race, sex, or caste. Which hierarchical relations are morally justified and why? Bell and Wang argue that it depends on the nature of the social relation and context. Different hierarchical principles ought to govern different kinds of social relations: what justifies hierarchy among intimates is different from what justifies hierarchy among citizens, countries, humans and animals, and humans and intelligent machines.


What We Are Reading Today: Our Minds, Our Selves: A Brief History of Psychology

Updated 30 March 2020

What We Are Reading Today: Our Minds, Our Selves: A Brief History of Psychology

Author: Keith Oatley

In Our Minds, Our Selves, distinguished psychologist and writer Keith Oatley provides an engaging, original, and authoritative history of modern psychology told through the stories of its most important breakthroughs and the men and women who made them.
The book traverses a fascinating terrain: conscious and unconscious knowledge, brain physiology, emotion, mental development, language, memory, mental illness, creativity, human cooperation, and much more.
Biographical sketches illuminate the thinkers behind key insights: Historical figures such as Darwin, Piaget, Skinner, and Turing; leading contemporaries such as Michael Tomasello and Tania Singer; and influential people from other fields, including Margaret Mead, Noam Chomsky, and Jane Goodall. Enhancing our understanding of ourselves and others, psychology holds the potential to create a better world. Our Minds, Our Selves tells the story of this most important of sciences in a new and appealing way.