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Publisher's Summary

In this book, which the author calls a "culmination of 30 years of work in the history of ideas," Sowell attempts to explain the ideological difference between liberals and conservatives as a disagreement over the moral potential inherent in nature. Those who see that potential as limited prefer to constrain governmental authority, he argues. They feel that reform is difficult and often dangerous, and put their faith in family, custom, law, and traditional institutions. Conversely, those who have faith in human nature prefer to remove institutional and traditional constraints. Controversies over such diverse issues as criminal justice, income distribution, or war and peace repeatedly show an ideological divide along the lines of these two conflicting visions.
©1987 Thomas Sowell (P)1988 Classics on Tape
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Critic Reviews

"Extraordinary....[Sowell] makes his case fairly, lucidly, and persuasively." (New York Times)
"A provocative analysis of the conflicting visions of human nature that have shaped the moral, legal and economic life of recent times....His discussion of how these conflicting attitudes ultimately produce clashes over equality, social justice and other issues is instructive."(Publishers Weekly)
"The book builds a convincing case that ethical and policy disputes are ultimately based on the differences in these visions. It covers a wide variety of political, philosophical, and economic thought...[A]n important contribution to our understanding of current social issues." (Library Journal)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
4 out of 5 stars
By Sierra Bravo on 06-13-07

Not a lite listen

This is for the serious philosopher only. It is very well thought out but not for the feint of heart. Whether you are a conservative or liberal it is worth looking at the assumptions behind your political leanings. This is a well explained treatise on why people at opposite ends of the political spectrum think the opposite side is crazy. It turns we do not mean the same things by the same words. Not the kind of thing one would recommend to the type of person who follows Paris Hilton’s every move. This book is to political / philosophical thinking what Steven’s Hawking’s A Brief History of Time is to physics.

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23 of 23 people found this review helpful

5 out of 5 stars
By Elaine C Grimes on 06-05-08

Critical read for 2008 change election

CHANGING America is what the 2008 election is all about. Understanding the Conflict of Visions between Conservatives and Liberal/Progressives is critical to understanding the profound differences in how much and how exactly Progressives would like to change America.

Thomas Sowell brings his deep expertise in philosophy, economics and history to elucidate the very real differences in what Conservatives believe and want for America versus the enlightened changes Progressives have in mind for most of us. Do you believe in the vision of the Founding Fathers for America? Do you want to put the government in control of legislating "equality" for all Americans? What is equality? Who gets to decide what is "best" for all of us? Who will win power in America? Who will lose power in America? Do you focus on identifying and enhancing what has worked well for mankind over time? Do you believe it's possible to craft a social engineering solution to every problem faced by mankind?

I've struggled for years trying to understand the definitions of liberal and conservative in America today. In A Conflict of Visions, at last I have a comprehensive theoretical foundation upon which I can evaluate my own types of expertise and knowledge at this critical time in our nation's history. I finally understand why some of my best friends and I "talk past each other" on important issues, neither side understanding how the other side thinks--and why.

Without a formal background in philosophy, history, and economics, comprehending this Audible book was a challenge that required my complete and undivided concentration. I've since ordered several print copies to share with friends and relatives. I am encouraging everyone I can to take the time to read this important book. I've been searching so long for these ideas. Thomas Sowell has earned my deep admiration and profound gratitude for this work. I loved this book.

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20 of 20 people found this review helpful

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