January 13, 2011 -- Professor Lynn Stout has published a new book, Cultivating Conscience: How Good Laws Make Good People (Princeton University Press, 2011), in which she contends that we should rely on the force of conscience, rather than lean on material incentives, to shape laws and human behavior.
In Cultivating Conscience, Professor Stout makes a compelling case that while unselfish, prosocial behavior is very common, contemporary law and public policy often treat people as selfish beings who only respond to punishments and rewards. She describes how our current emphasis on self-interest and material incentives may have contributed to the recent financial scandals, and illustrates how our legal system can use social cues—instructions from authorities, ideas about others' selfishness and unselfishness and beliefs about benefits to others—to craft better laws that encourage more unselfish, ethical behavior.
Reviews of the pathbreaking book can be found at: Miller-McCune, Brookings, ROROTOKO, Culture Shocks and ForeWord.
For more information about the book, please click here.