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Satisficing and Maximizing: Moral Theorists on Practical Reason [Paperback]

Michael Byron
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)

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Book Description

July 19, 2004 0521010055 978-0521010054
This collection of essays explores two competing views of practical rationality. How do we think about what we plan to do? One dominant answer is that we select the best possible option available. However, a growing number of philosophers would offer a different reply. Since we are not equipped to maximize, we must often choose the next best alternative--one that is no more than satisfactory. This strategy choice is called "satisficing" (a term coined by the economist Herb Simon).

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Book Description

How do we think about what we plan to do? One dominant answer is that we select the best possible option available. However, a growing number of philosophers would offer a different answer: since we are not equipped to maximize we often choose the next best alternative, one that is no more than satisfactory. This strategy choice is called satisficing (a term coined by the economist Herb Simon).This new collection of essays explores both these accounts of practical reason.

About the Author

Michael Byron is Associate Professor of Philosophy at Kent State University

Product Details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press (July 19, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0521010055
  • ISBN-13: 978-0521010054
  • Product Dimensions: 0.7 x 5.9 x 8.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #678,688 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Virture is not Absolute May 24, 2009
By L. King
Format:Paperback
I first became interested in the notion of satisficing in my university days when I read Herbert Simon's "Sciences of the Artificial" and the idea stuck with me. He applied to the notion of an explanation. While the search for absolute truth was admirable we often stop at an explanation that is "good enough". There are excellent reasons for this such as lack of time, knowledge or an assessment that the current level of explanation is sufficient for practical utilitarian needs. The lesson I learned from this is OK to be a bit lazy and be satisfied with what you have because of diminishing returns for the effort of coming up with something better. This is contrasted with a strategy of maximizing. Think "Type A" personality - maximizing vs "Type B" satisficing.

"Satisficing and Maximizing" looks at applying this principle to morality. There are 12 essays including an introduction by editor Michael Byron. David Schmidtz introduces John Pollock's delightful dilemma of the immortal who has the only bottle of EverBetter Wine that gets tastier by the day - when should she drink it. A maximizer would say never, a satisficer would find a reasonable moment and share it with some friends. Michael Weber's "A New Defense of Satisficing". was a thoughtful excursion in the role of narrative in determining a valuation of a good life or good decision. James Dreier's look at the "Prisoner's Dilemna" and Tyler Cowen's take on economic satisficing use satisficing to explain the choices made in game theory. Michael Byron's "Could Aristotle Satisifice" which casts satisficing as an old idea, but differs from Aristotle's idea of moderation in that it is in and of itself not intrinsically virtuous.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Best book on the subject October 2, 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
It is the best (and the only) book devoted to satisficing. Michael Byron provides a general yet clear and compact introduction to the subject. The articles are varied and interesting.
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