Posted by: Nicholas Davis | March 10, 2009

Barry Schwartz: The real crisis? We stopped being wise

Barry Schwartz

Barry Schwartz

This is a great TED talk – how do we restore “practical wisdom” and morality to the world of work? Barry Schwartz argues not with ethics classes, but by celebrating moral heroes and moral work. We need to recognise the value of moral skill and moral will, and allow room for improvisation even in the humblest of roles. Most importantly, he argues, we need to pay attention not to over-rely rules and incentives – they “de-moralize” and cause negative externalities down the line. Schwartz makes the interesting point that no rules or incentives can ever be so good that they can’t be gamed – therefore we need something in addition – practical wisdom. Link here.

[In his speeches] Obama appealed to virtue – practical wisdom allows other virtues to be displayed at the right time in the right way. People want to be allowed to be virtuous.

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