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This book explores the steady decline in the status of the individual in recent years and addresses common misunderstandings about the concept of individuality. Drawing from psychology, neuroscience, technology, economics, philosophy, politics, and law, White explains how and why the individual has been devalued in the eyes of scholars, government leaders, and the public. He notes that developments in science have led to doubts about our cognitive competence, while assumptions made in the humanities have led to questions about our moral competence. In this book, White goes on to argue that both of these views are mistaken and that they stem from overly simplistic ideas about how individuals make choices, however imperfectly, in their interests, which are multifaceted and complex. In response, he proposes a new way to look at individuals that preserves their essential autonomy while emphasizing their responsibility to others, inspired by the moral philosophy of Immanuel Kant and the legal and political philosophy reflected in the Bill of Rights to the U.S. Constitution. This book explains how individuality combines both rights and responsibilities, reconciles the popular yet false dichotomy between individual and society, and provides the basis for a humane and respectful civil society and government.
This book is part of White's trilogy on the individual and society, which includes The Manipulation of Choice and The Illusion of Well-Being.