The Public Interest

Civilizing nature

Roger D. Masters

Fall 1994

NATURE IS BACK. For most of this century, such terms as “natural law,” “natural right,” and “human nature”—the basis of American political thought from the Declaration of Independence through the end of the nineteenth century—were banished from popular discourse and academic writing. Liberals spoke of civil rights and social welfare; conservatives emphasized individual freedom, private property, and the laws of the market; Marxists used social class and history. If asked to assess nature versus nurture, behaviorists, Freudians, economists, and cultural anthropologists could usually agree it was nurture that counted most.

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