Biology and Freedom is an essay on human nature: an attempt to make a just assessment of a species often presented as predominantly and unavoidably violent, grasping, selfish and stupid. Likening human beings to animals is a traditional method of influencing attitudes on morals and politics. But in this book Professor Barnett shows that modern ethology, experimental psychology, genetics and evolutionary theory give the now fashionable misanthropy no authentic support. In doing so he asks whether the theory of evolution has any bearing on Machiavellianism in politics or the concept of original sin; and whether laboratory experiments on the effects of reward and punishment tell us anything about the enigma of free will. Combining the findings of up-to-date biology with logic and humour, Professor Barnett gives a lucid alternative portrait of humanity in which he stresses the questions that the complexities of human existence will raise long after current myths have faded. This book is for all interested about human nature and the future of human society.
First published in hardback in 1989.