I have dedicated the book to those who reflect on what it
means to be a flourishing human.
When individuals think about their own personal development,
they are reflecting on what it means to be a flourishing human. I believe that reflection on what it means to
be a flourishing human also holds the key to understanding the importance of
liberty, and its role in economic development.
What is the book about?
The book explains
how freedom (liberty) enables individuals to flourish in different ways without
colliding, how it fosters progress and enables growth of opportunities, and how
it supports personal development by enabling individuals to exercise self-direction.
The importance of self-direction is a theme of the book. The introductory chapter explains
that wise and well-informed self-direction is integral to flourishing
because it helps individuals
to attain health and longevity, positive human relationships, psychological
well-being, and an ability to live in harmony with nature.
discusses natural rights and the evolution of freedom since ancient times. It
explains how most people living in the liberal democracies today came to enjoy
greater freedom than their ancestors.
discusses progress. It explains how cultural change made economic progress
possible by supporting the rule of law, liberty, and interpersonal trust, as well
as the advance of knowledge, respect for innovators and tolerance of diversity.
It notes that progress has led to increasingly widespread opportunities for
people to meet their aspirations. It also discusses reasons for apprehension about
the continuation of progress.
considers how it is possible for individuals to meet the challenges of
self-direction and to enhance their potential to flourish by investing in
personal development. It explains that while the exercise of practical wisdom
has always been integral to the flourishing of individuals, it has become
commonplace for people to aspire to exercise meaningful self-direction over
their lives to a greater extent than has ever been possible in the past.
message of the book is that people who live in Western liberal democracies
should count their blessings. They have many blessings to count!
reviewers saying about the book?
Rasmussen, a philosopher, and joint author with Douglas Den Uyl of a trilogy of
books about liberty and human flourishing writes:
“Freedom, Progress, and Human Flourishing is a
highly informed, but not an unduly technical, account of human flourishing and
the need for a political/legal order that has the primary goal of protecting
individual rights. This work is informed by not only philosophical but also by
psychological and economic studies. This work provides an excellent entry point
for deeper discussions of these fundamental claims.”
Readers who are seeking deeper discussions will find much to
think about in the books by Rasmussen and Den Uyl: Norms
of Liberty, The
Perfectionist Turn, and The
Realist Turn: Repositioning Liberalism.
Ron Duncan, a distinguished Australian economist with particular
expertise in the economics and governance of developing countries, writes:
“With so much attention on identifying issues we should be
unhappy about, Winton Bates' book is a welcome relief, given its emphasis on
how much the lot of most people—particularly those in western liberal
societies—has improved, why the improvements have taken place, and why they
should continue. Its historical coverage of the philosophical issues
underpinning the role of liberty in western progress should delight all serious
“This masterful feat of integration of a wide range of
literature from philosophy, economics, political science, and the social
sciences will inspire scholars to bring their disciplines together to advance
the argument for a free society.”
What are my qualifications to write such a book?
I am an economist. I first became professionally involved in
broad issues concerning human flourishing in the early 1990s. Before then, my
career focused on public policy relating to economic development, international
trade, productivity growth and technological progress. Whilst retaining my professional
interest in such matters, I have become increasingly interested in economic
history, happiness economics, behavioral economics, self-help psychology,
politics, and Aristotelian philosophy. I have written extensively about freedom
and flourishing and have been blogging on this site for about 12 years.
How do I perform when interviewed about my book?
Potential interviewers who need to make such an assessment should
take a look at me being interviewed by Leah Goldrick. The interview entitled “Freedom
Helps us Flourish” has been published on Leah’s Common Sense
Ethics channel on YouTube. The interview is also a useful source of background
information about the book and its author.
Where can the book be purchased?
The book has been published by Hamilton Books and can be
purchased at the Rowman and Littlefield web site: https://rowman.com/ISBN/9780761872665/Freedom-Progress-and-Human-Flourishing
It is also available from Amazon and some other booksellers.