Letter: We are more complicated than politicians and scientists think

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Colin Tudge treats the market system and overriding selfishness as indivisible. He fails to recognise that those who advocate market mechanisms have a more thorough appreciation of human nature. When we say that the decisions and actions of the individual must be rewarded he assumes the reward must be material; this is his imputation. What is necessary for any organisation, including society at large, to work is that the individual who makes the decision to act in a certain way must see the fruits of his or her action. That may be a material gain but it could equally be the satisfaction of a job well done, the respect of fellow human beings, or the simple joy of seeing the happiness of another individual. The collectivist, centralised approach fails because it provides no reward that can be recognised as attributable to the individual, or a coherent group with which the individual identifies.

Mr Tudge and your readers may care to examine the works of A H Maslow on this subject. He hypothesises that all actions are motivated by the desire to fulfil needs; the most basic may be material, but the higher level needs encompass all types of social functionality, including the respect of one's peers.

Mr Tudge may like to ponder whether in writing his article he would have been as motivated if the editor had intended to publish without attribution even if the same fee had been offered. Is he that selfless?

Keith Homer

Birmingham

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