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Katie van Schaijik

Stigma and motivation

Dec. 1, 2009, at 5:53pm

A Chestertonian paradox: scarcity is the root of romance, is echoed (I think) in an American Enterprise blogpost by Charles Murray titled, “Stigma makes generosity feasible.”

Stigma is the only way that a free society can be generous, whether through private help or government programs. The dilemma is as old as charity: how to give help without creating a cycle in which more people need help. Stigma is the way out.

I see his point.  But I wonder whether it’s really true.  Is stigma or shame or punishment the only means of dis-incentivising bad behavior?  Are there not higher and deeper forms of motivation?


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