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Risk, Ambiguity and Decision (Studies in Philosophy) Hardcover – January 8, 2001

ISBN-13: 978-0815340225 ISBN-10: 0815340222 Edition: 1st
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Editorial Reviews


Ellsberg's dissertation is a major landmark in the history of decision research. The issues that it raised and clarified have inspired scholars for decades, and will continue to do so.
–Daniel Kahneman, Princeton University

I think a published version would be a valuable resource, not only as a historical document, but also for still fresh ideas.
–Dick Jeffrey, Princeton University

Daniel Ellsberg set the world of decision theorists on its ear when he introduced the distinction between risk and ambiguity in his article excerpted from his dissertation. The clear convincing example caused a fundamental shift in thinking and in many ways led to the subsequent studies of decision and judgment by cognitive psychologists which, in turn, are having an increasing influence in the analysis of economic phenomena. It is good to have the complete text available to us at last.
–Kenneth J. Arrow, Stanford University, Emeritus

About the Author

Daniel Ellsberg was a strategic analyst with the RAND Corporation, and a defense department and state department official who served in Vietnam. He later revealed to the U.S. Senate and the press the Pentagon Papers, a 7,000 page top secret study of U.S. decision making in Vietnam from 1945 to 1968. For this he faced a trial and a sentence of 115 years in prison, but all charges were dismissed on grounds of gross governmental misconduct against him, which led to the conviction of a number of White House aids and figured in the impeachment proceedings against President Nixon.

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Product Details

  • Series: Studies in Philosophy
  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Routledge; 1 edition (January 8, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0815340222
  • ISBN-13: 978-0815340225
  • Product Dimensions: 1.2 x 6.2 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.5 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,329,601 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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26 of 28 people found the following review helpful By Michael Emmett Brady on July 6, 2004
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Ellsberg does an excellent job of demonstrating the very special nature of the Ramsey-de Finetti-Savage(RFS) subjectivist approach to both probability and decision making.The RFS approach requires the decision maker to be able to specify precise,exact,definite single number answers for all probability estimates.This is supposedly accomplished by an elicitation procedure based on the requirement that every decision is to be modeled as if it were a betting situation.Ellsberg shows that many decision makers will not accept such a betting quotients modeling approach to specifying numerical probabilities because such individuals make imprecise probability assessments.These estimates of probability are intervals.Each interval is made up of a lower probability and an upper probability.Only in the special case where the lower probability equals the upper probability will the RFS approach be sound.Ellsberg makes it very clear that he is building on the work of Good,Koopman,Smith and others in emphasizing the importance of intervals in specifying probability assessments in real world situations.However,in his formal model Ellsberg uses sets of probability distributions.One of Ellsberg's contributions is in terms of explaining why the vast majority of decision makers rely on intervals and not on precise probability estimates.Ellsberg's answer is that both the quantity and quality of relevant information, data or knowledge is ambiguous ,unclear,conflicting,incomplete or not available.Ambiguity represents a second dimension of decision making.This means that the RFS approach to probability estimation and the Subjective Expected Utility(SEU)theory built upon it is a special limiting case that only obtains when the information base is clear ,complete, available, and non-conflicting.Read more ›
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