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What Price the Moral High Ground?: How to Succeed without Selling Your Soul Hardcover – December 22, 2003

ISBN-13: 978-0691006727 ISBN-10: 0691006725

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Princeton University Press (December 22, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0691006725
  • ISBN-13: 978-0691006727
  • Product Dimensions: 9.4 x 6.5 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,433,385 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


"This book is short, accessible and thought-provoking. . . . Frank draws heavily from game theory and evolutionary biology to explain why do-gooders work for less and firms that don't squeeze suppliers and cheat customers profit over the long run."--Washington Post

"Moral behavior is not irrational . . . Frank insists. The challenge is to define self-interest in a manner capacious enough to accommodate the real motives for people's choices. Frank does this with a mixture of Darwinian science, psychology, and flexible common sense."--Laura Secor, Boston Globe

"What Price the Moral High Ground? Is wide-ranging and well-written."--John J. DiIulio, Jr., The Weekly Standard

"[Frank's] vision is one that allows people to strive to meet their chosen goals and promotes the common good in an ordered cosmos--which is exactly where many of us want to live."--Merrill Matthews, Business Economics

From the Inside Flap

"I loved this book. It makes sense of key economic behaviors not well explained by other models, through a combination of theory, examples, and clever experiments. Clearly written, it will be easily understood not only by economists but also noneconomists. Vintage Frank."--Shlomo Maital, author of Executive Economics

"Robert Frank takes us beyond the economic notion of rationality, pointing to the norms that guide people, their social status, and character, and make them seem nicer than economic theory would have them be. He adds an interesting twist to the story by showing that those who are subjected to theory may actually be less nice, less cooperative than others."--Arjo Klamer, editor of Conversations with Economists and The Value of Culture

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By JJ vd Weele on August 14, 2008
Format: Paperback
Economist Robert Frank is a productive man who has the laudable habit of explaining insights of academic economics in understandable words for the general public. This book treats the spontaneous emergence of cooperative behavior amongst human beings, a fascinating topic which has been the focus of much research lately. Unfortunately, it is not one of Frank's best books. As a rather unbalanced collection of essays, it does not do justice to the sizeable literature on social preferences and cooperation.

The book consists of three parts. The first looks for the evolutionary roots of cooperative behavior. The main argument is that cooperation pays because cooperators are able to recognize each other in the population, so that they are not taken advantage of by opportunistic types. In the third chapter Frank builds an interesting evolutionary argument for the role of emotions. The second part discusses the social and economic relevance of cooperative tendencies. How much money are people willing to forego to satisfy their social preferences? The last part investigates how cooperative inclinations can be fostered. It investigates the impact of social norms on behavior, and the influence of the pervasive model of homo economicus.

The book is easy to read, written in an accessible style. Unfortunately, the book is not a comprehensive summary of research on cooperation. Rather, it takes a few snapshots of this research on which it elaborates. Perhaps not surprisingly, these snapshots are often the research papers of Frank himself. This is good for those who are interested in methodology: Frank has done his best to highlight controversial issues, as well as the theoretical tradeoffs that modelers of human behavior have to confront.
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