- Paperback: 379 pages
- Publisher: Harvard University Press; 1st Paperback Edition edition (October 15, 1985)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0674127714
- ISBN-13: 978-0674127715
- Product Dimensions: 6.5 x 1 x 9.2 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 7 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #903,291 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Choice and Consequence 1st Paperback Edition Edition
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“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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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. He suggests that the deprivation of `pareto superior' through physical constrains or coercive environment can minimise opportunity abuse and maximise prediction of human behaviour.
In dying, Individual life saving or reducing individual death is viewed by Shelling as a moral judgement instead of an economic consideration because economists cannot completely assign values to it. Children are different from livestock so that it is difficult to assess their costs and benefits as a result of death. Nor does the US have a national policy on human life so that the cost of human death cannot be substantially reflected. The employment of discounted lifetime earnings to estimate how much an individual should pay for death avoidance is not too relevant. Putting morality aside and using the consumer point of view as an analytical framework, Shelling likes the idea of being allowed to die provided that an individual can relieve others of the emotional burden and the expense.
In addressing the issue of organised crime, Shelling believes that organised crime involves huge social costs such as tax evasion and corruption but it is more preferable to disorganised crime because it internalises some of the costs that falls on the underworld itself if criminal activity is decentralised.It thrives because it provides goods and services the public demands. However, organised crime cannot survive when the market mechanism functions well in a highly competitive manner. To him, prohibition of goods and services in the markets can create organised crime.
In this book, Shelling also adopts game theory to identify a variety of alternatives for analysing arms bargaining and inflicting costs. In conclusion, each chapter is witty and erudite and this book provides readers with insightful and competing evaluation of different real world issues that are surrounded by rationality, sentiment, moral consideration, and economic impact.
It's relatively easy to grasp what he's saying here, and it's also great fun from time to time, especially one of the essays regarding self-control.
All in all a nice and interesting book, always fun reading the musings of smart people.
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. I would draw your attention in particular to chapter 6, "Strategic Relationships in Dying" which touches upon some very interesting subjects such as the relationship between a patient and his doctor, especially a terminally ill patient -- where significant human "choices" need to be made to withhold information, to authenticate assertions, and the conflict of interest that arises within small groups. This article truly underscores that apart from being a leading political economist, a métier Schelling has clearly excelled at, he is also at heart a fabulous thinker and writer.
I highly recommend this book to anyone who is interested in strategy, or economics, or negotiation, or even a basic thought-provoking intelligent read.