Solomonic Judgements: Studies in the Limitation of Rationality

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Cambridge University Press, Jul 28, 1989 - Mathematics - 232 pages
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This volume of essays is very much a sequel to the two earlier collections by Jon Elster, Ulysses and the Sirens and Sour Grapes. His topic is rationality--its scope, its limitations, and its failures. Elster considers rational responses to the insufficiency of reason itself and to the "indeterminacies" in deploying rational choice theory, and discusses the irrationality of not seeing when, where, and what these are. A key essay that gives the collection its title examines disputes in cases of child custody that are paradigmatically indeterminate. Leaving aside cases where one parent is patently unfit and assuming that protracted dispute is against the immediate interests of the child, Elster argues that three options present themselves: a strong presumption in favor of the mother, a strong presumption in favor of the primary caretaker, and tossing a coin. Though the first two options may be preferable in the short term, Elster argues that there is a case for randomization in the long term.
 

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Contents

WHEN RATIONALITY FAILS
1
I2 RATIONAL ACTION
3
I3 INDETERMINACY
7
I4 IRRATIONALITY
17
I5 ALTERNATIVES TO RATIONALITY
26
TAMING CHANCE RANDOMIZATION IN INDIVIDUAL AND SOCIAL DECISIONS
36
II2 VARIETIES OF RANDOMNESS
39
II3 RANDOMIZATION IN INDIVIDUAL DECISIONS
53
III2 TOWARDS THE BEST INTERESTS OF THE CHILD
130
III3 AGAINST THE BEST INTERESTS OF THE CHILD
134
III4 CIRCUMVENTING THE BEST INTERESTS OF THE CHILD
151
III5 ALTERNATIVES TO THE BEST INTERESTS OF THE CHILD
155
III6 CONCLUSION
173
THE POSSIBILITY OF RATIONAL POLITICS
175
IV2 INDIVIDUAL AND SOCIAL CHOICE
176
IV3 POLITICAL INDETERMINACY
181

AN OVERVIEW
62
II5 SCARCE GOODS AND NECESSARY BURDENS
67
II6 POLITICAL LOTTERIES
78
II7 LEGAL LOTTERIES
93
II8 WHY LOTTERIES?
103
SOLOMONIC JUDGEMENTS AGAINST THE BEST INTERESTS OF THE CHILD
123
IV4 POLITICAL IRRATIONALITY
194
IV5 ALTERNATIVES TO RATIONALISM IN POLITICS
202
REFERENCES
217
INDEX
231
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