Summary of Our Loss of Wisdom

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Our Loss of Wisdom summary
Rule-benders aren’t outlaws; rather, they use “practical wisdom” to act as “moral heroes.”


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Psychologist Barry Schwartz doesn’t suggest that rules are unnecessary; rather, he explains how strict adherence to rules prohibits people from using their common sense. He also describes how incentives generate counterproductive behavior. Schwartz promotes “practical wisdom,” the human capacity for making empathetic and moral choices. If you interact with other humans beings at work, getAbstract recommends this lecture as food for thought.

In this summary, you will learn

  • How to develop “practical wisdom,”
  • How the overreliance on rules and incentives erodes ethical behavior,
  • How to nurture people’s capacity to do the right thing.


A job posting for a hospital janitor included a long list of duties but didn’t detail a single task that required human interaction. Yet interviews with hospital janitors showed that they make thoughtful judgment calls every day – for example, deciding whether to mop the corridor when a frail patient...
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About the Speaker

Psychologist Barry Schwartz studies morality and decision making. He wrote The Paradox of Choice.

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