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Choice and Consequence

4.6 out of 5 stars 7 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0674127715
ISBN-10: 0674127714
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Editorial Reviews

Review

Whether one is looking for evidence and insights on the rationality or the irrationality of man, Choice and Consequence is one of the very best places to look… Mr. Schelling’s book is a superb place to get a sense of both the need for and the dangers of the assumption of rationality. (New York Times)

Without exception, the essays are witty, erudite and stimulating. (Wall Street Journal)

What makes Schelling such a pleasure to read, apart from his lean, clear, wry conversational style, is the shrewdness and human insight with which he breaks down complex problems and phenomena into their parts, permitting systematic understanding to develop. (The New Republic)

From the Back Cover

Thomas Schelling is a political economist 'conspicuous for wandering' --an errant economist. In Choice and Consequence, he ventures into the area where rationality is ambiguous in order to look at the tricks people use to try to quit smoking or lose weight. He explores topics as some as nuclear terrorism, as sordid as blackmail, as ineffable as daydreaming, as intimidating as euthanasia. He examines ethical issues wrapped up in economics, unwrapping the economics to disclose ethical issues that are misplaced or misidentified.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 379 pages
  • Publisher: Harvard University Press (October 15, 1985)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0674127714
  • ISBN-13: 978-0674127715
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.9 x 9.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #270,082 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Format: Paperback
Most people reading this review will know Schelling as a renowned game-theorist/economist, and perhaps as a nobel-prize winner. This is bound to lead to an impression that his books must most likely be economic discourses full of the metrics and highfalutin theoretical abstractions that usually pervade the field in academic circles.
I'll dispel that myth and have you know that Schelling's books -- notably this one and his seminal "Strategy of Conflict" (SOC) -- are as close as you'll come to a readable yet gripping compendium of his fascinating economic thinking. His writing is purposefully simple, and his sharp arguments evoke thoughts about matters that can and will appeal to just about any Joe Bloggs.
But this book is different from any of Schelling's other published works.
SOC for instance was a compilation of roughly a dozen essays discussing negotiation, conflict and strategy...the applications of which were international -- diplomacy, deterrence, arms control, foreign aid, environmental policy, nuclear proliferation, organized crime, racial segregation and integration, tobacco and drugs policy, and ethical issues in policy and business.
While most of Schelling's work including SOC has been of a macro-economic bent, the essays in this book extend his theories to a more personal, social level -- things such as how people maneuver in traffic jams, how parents negotiate with their kids (toughest customers in my book), how they behave when confronted with ransom demands, or file suits, or devise agendas for a meeting or their daily lives.
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Format: Paperback
Thomas Schelling was awarded the 2005 Nobel prize for economics, and readers of this book will be able to tell you why. Choice and Consequence represents a collection of 15 essays written by Schelling between the late 60s and early 80s, covering a broad range of subjects such as governments' social policies, how to deal with death, how game theory applies to weapons treaties, and organized crime.

Schelling is an academic, and it shows in his writing: his ideas are brilliant, his thinking is extremely logical and rigorous, but his prose is sometimes obtuse. It is not the easiest read, but what is lacks in readability it more than makes up for in intellectual interest. I have rarely, if ever, come across a book whose ideas are more clearly articulated, all while being applicable to situations that readers can understand and in many cases identify with.

This is definitely not a book for everyone; if you are looking for an easier book that discusses everyday situations with economic thinking, read Freakonomics. However, if you are looking for something a little more intellectual, this is your book. It will be extremely useful to anyone who wishes to improve their rational thinking.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book consists of 15 chapters and Shelling intends to make use of his line of economic reasoning to throw light on a considerable variety of intriguing real world issues such as organised crime, circumstances of dying, policy ethics, vicarious problem-solving, self-command, and mind consumption.

To him, economists are used to tilt towards the efficacy of money. Compromising between the hard question of efficiency and equity, public policy is always concerned with the distribution of income and wealth to the unfortunate and the disadvantaged and it is used to involve the question of `how much'. The line of economic reasoning helps decision makers to compare identifiable or something better alternatives in order that distributional objectives can be accomplished in a least wasteful way. It also contributes to the clarification of issues that involve misplaced or misidentified ethics.

In discussing on how people think, behave, and act for themselves, Shelling suggests that people do not always adopt the individualist-utilitarian approach and they can have different goals and tastes at different times. It is not surprising that an individual can make a rational choice at a time but he finally does not act accordingly. For instance, an individual knows that smoking is detrimental to health but he cannot keep himself from smoking because an alternate self is in command. Moreover, people loves reasoning their way into a menu of beliefs and disbeliefs they know to be false. Human mind is something of an embarrassment to economists and other social scientists who have believed that people are used to act as rational consumers in making orderly successive comparisons of products.
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Format: Paperback
A very interesting book. I read it when it first came out,
and I still refer back to it from time to time. Schelling
takes a look at a myriad of social issues from taxation
policy to the cost/benefit analysis of new airport lights
for a small community and always makes the reader think. He
has a great way of turning situations around so that one
can see both sides of an argument and then make informed,
and sometimes, rational decisions. A good book on public
policy which can turn a liberal into a conservative and
vice versa!
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