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Strings AttachedUntangling the Ethics of Incentives$
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Ruth W. Grant

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780691151601

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: October 2017

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691151601.001.0001

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Incentives Then and Now

Incentives Then and Now

The Clock and the Engineer

(p.14) Chapter Two Incentives Then and Now
Strings Attached

Ruth W. Grant

Princeton University Press

This chapter presents a historical account of the use of the term “incentives” and of the introduction of incentives in scientific management and behavioral psychology. “Incentives” came into the language in the early part of the twentieth century in America. During this period, the language of social control and of social engineering was quite prevalent, and incentives were understood to be one tool in the social engineers' toolbox—an instrument of power. Not coincidentally, incentives were also extremely controversial at this time and were criticized from several quarters as dehumanizing, manipulative, heartless, and exploitative. When incentives are viewed as instruments of power, the controversial ethical aspects of their use come readily to the fore.

Keywords:   incentives, power, scientific management, behavioral pedagogy, social control, social engineering, ethics

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