Strategies of Commitment and Other Essays

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Harvard University Press, 2006 - Business & Economics - 341 pages

All of the essays in this new collection by Thomas Schelling convey his unique perspective on individuals and society. This perspective has several characteristics: it is strategic in that it assumes that an important part of people's behavior is motivated by the thought of influencing other people's expectations; it views the mind as being separable into two or more parts (rational/irrational; present-minded/future-minded); it is motivated by policy concerns--smoking and other addictions, global warming, segregation, nuclear war; and while it accepts many of the basic assumptions of economics--that people are forward-looking, rational decision makers, that resources are scarce, and that incentives are important--it is open to modifying them when appropriate, and open to the findings and insights of other social science disciplines.

Schelling--a 2005 Nobel Prize winner-- has been one of the four or five most important social scientists of the past fifty years, and this collection shows why.

 

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Contents

Preface
vii
Strategies of Commitment 1
xiv
CLIMATE AND SOCIETY
25
What Makes Greenhouse Sense?
27
The Economic Diplomacy of Geoengineering
45
Intergenerational and International Discounting
51
COMMITMENT AS SELFCOMMAND
61
SelfCommand in Practice in Policy and in a Theory of Rational Choice
63
What Do Economists Know?
147
Why Does Economics Only Help with Easy Problems?
152
Prices as Regulatory Instruments
166
WEAPONS AND WARFARE
209
Meteors Mischief and War
211
Research by Accident
217
Reflections and Lessons
226
SOCIAL DYNAMICS
233

Coping Rationally with Lapses from Rationality
82
Against Backsliding
107
The Cigarette Experience
114
SOCIETY AND LIFE
125
Life Liberty or the Pursuit of Happiness
127
Should Numbers Determine Whom to Save?
140
ECONOMICS AND SOCIAL POLICY
145
Social Mechanisms and Social Dynamics
235
Dynamic Models of Segregation
249
DECISIONS OF THE HIGHEST ORDER
311
The Legacy of Hiroshima
313
Credits
327
Index
331
Copyright

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About the author (2006)

Thomas Crombie Schelling was born in Oakland, California on April 14, 1921. He received a bachelor's degree in economics from the University of California, Berkeley in 1944. After working as an analyst for the federal Bureau of the Budget, he attended Harvard University. He spent two years in Denmark and France as an economist for the Economic Cooperation Administration. In 1950, he joined the White House staff of the foreign policy adviser to President Harry S. Truman. In 1951, he received his doctorate from Harvard and published his first book, National Income Behavior: An Introduction to Algebraic Analysis. He taught economics at Yale University, Harvard University, and the University of Maryland's Department of Economics and School of Public Policy before retiring in 2003. He wrote several books during his lifetime including International Economics, The Strategy of Conflict, Strategy and Arms Control written with Morton H. Halperin, Arms and Influence, Micromotives and Macrobehavior, Choice and Consequence, and Strategies of Commitment. In 2005, he and Robert J. Aumann received the Nobel Prize in economic science for "having enhanced our understanding of conflict and cooperation through game-theory analysis." He died on December 13, 2016 at the age of 95.

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