The Moral Wrestler: Ignored by Maslow

Society, October 2017

21 Pages Posted: 23 Oct 2017

See all articles by Amitai Etzioni

Amitai Etzioni

The George Washington University

Date Written: October 18, 2017


Maslow assumes that people are not merely economic creators who seek to maximize their happiness. He holds that once people’s basic needs are satisfied, they will find contentment in seeking to address “higher” needs—famously esteem and self-actualization. However, Maslow’s theory is self-centered. To view people as moral creatures, social sciences need to draw much more on a view of human nature found in the three Abrahamic religions, namely that people are able to tell right from wrong, but they keep straying. They are assumed to engage in a life-long wrestle between the better angels of their nature and their debased self. In contrast each social science has its own conceptions of human nature. Some lost sight of the moral wrestling, while others are exploring it but in the process opened a Pandora’s box.

Suggested Citation

Etzioni, Amitai, The Moral Wrestler: Ignored by Maslow (October 18, 2017). Society, October 2017. Available at SSRN:

Amitai Etzioni (Contact Author)

The George Washington University ( email )

2100 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Suite 4058
Washington, DC 20037
United States

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