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On Philosophy, Politics, and Economics (Wadsworth Philosophical Topics) Paperback – November 21, 2007

ISBN-13: 978-0495008989 ISBN-10: 0495008982 Edition: 1st

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Product Details

  • Series: Wadsworth Philosophical Topics
  • Paperback: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Cengage Learning; 1 edition (November 21, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0495008982
  • ISBN-13: 978-0495008989
  • Product Dimensions: 0.5 x 5.5 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #467,697 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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30 of 30 people found the following review helpful By Anomaly on December 14, 2007
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Broadly speaking, there are two kinds of books that introduce the reader to an unfamiliar field: those that give a bland overview of the main theories and concepts in the field, and those that show - through illustrations and arguments - why these concepts are important. Philosophy, Politics, and Economics (PPE) falls into the second category. Since Amazon doesn't list the table of contents, here is a brief account of what's inside:

In the opening chapter, Gaus distinguishes economic accounts of rational action from instrumental, or goal-oriented, rationality.

The second chapter covers utility theory, which is the foundation of the economic approach to social and political behavior.

In the third chapter, Gaus explains and illustrates the predominant conception of economic efficiency, "Pareto efficiency," which holds that an exchange is efficient if no party is made worse off, and at least one party is better off (by their own judgments). Gaus argues that economists favor free markets because, in the absence of externalities (or third-party affects), free exchanges produce efficient outcomes. You have tacos, I have pizza, we both have a decreasing marginal appetite for the food we already have, so we trade.

In chapter four Gaus tackles game theory. Philosophers and social scientists are captivated by the Prisoners' Dilemma (PD), Gaus claims, primarily because it is an instance of individually rational behavior leading to Pareto inferior (or inefficient) results. One of the most interesting parts of the book is Gaus's argument that the elusive attempt to 'solve' the PD stems from the fact that we are tempted to look at the game from the standpoint of people who cannot in fact be modeled by it.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By ferdydurke on October 5, 2010
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this book is perfect for one that has minimal knowledge in the domain of today's concepts of rationality. analyzing from an economical point of view social choice theory and today's instrumental actions, this book is a must for understanding how the economic model reached all the strata of today's thinking, from politics (game theory) to philosophy(the concept of reason in itself).
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