Strategies Of Commitment And Other Essays / Edition 1

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Overview

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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Editorial Reviews

Los Angeles Times - Susan Salter Reynolds
Thomas Schelling, 2005 Nobel laureate in economics, is interested in the strategies--rational, irrational, mean, kind--that people use to constrain their behavior. In these essays, he looks at addiction, temptation and resolve, as well as the use of threats, promises and bluffing. What's fascinating is that he applies his analysis of these strategies not only to individual behavior but also to critical issues like race relations, abortion and the behavior of nations--for example, international agreements to reduce greenhouse gases. Schelling is that rarest of creatures, an economist who writes clearly, takes on practical questions and thinks them through alongside his reader. He is delightful to read.
National Post - Robert Fulford
In recent decades a few ambitious and imaginative economists have tried to break the surly bonds of statistics and produce ideas all of us can understand and maybe use. Among these noble warriors against the evils of obscurantism, Thomas C. Schelling has established himself as the champion...Schelling's new book, Strategies of Commitment and Other Essays, takes us on a readable tour through the concerns of a major academic career.
Times Higher Education Supplement - Robert Sugden
Whether by accident or design, this collection of essays is well timed to celebrate Thomas Schelling's winning the 2005 Nobel Prize in Economics. With one minor exception all the essays have been published previously. On the scale of Schelling's long career, most are relatively recent productions. All the characteristic features of his work--the breadth of his interests, the originality and creativity of his theorizing, the intellectual rigor of his policy analysis and the freshness and clarity of his writing--are on display. The title essay is an elegant reprise of the work for which Schelling is best known among his fellow economists: the study of strategy commitment. Several essays explore the possibilities of commitment as a mechanism of self-control. Schelling treats the individual as a collection of selves, interacting strategically with one another. He writes with empathy and imagination about the strategies by which one self tries to forestall choices that another self will want to make, and the countervailing strategies by which the latter tries to evade the constraints imposed by the former.
Los Angeles Times

Thomas Schelling, 2005 Nobel laureate in economics, is interested in the strategies—rational, irrational, mean, kind—that people use to constrain their behavior. In these essays, he looks at addiction, temptation and resolve, as well as the use of threats, promises and bluffing. What's fascinating is that he applies his analysis of these strategies not only to individual behavior but also to critical issues like race relations, abortion and the behavior of nations—for example, international agreements to reduce greenhouse gases. Schelling is that rarest of creatures, an economist who writes clearly, takes on practical questions and thinks them through alongside his reader. He is delightful to read.
— Susan Salter Reynolds

Science
[Schelling] offers informative perspectives on a wide range of topics...Anyone interested in the behaviors of individual or societies will find many of the pieces thought-provoking.
National Post

In recent decades a few ambitious and imaginative economists have tried to break the surly bonds of statistics and produce ideas all of us can understand and maybe use. Among these noble warriors against the evils of obscurantism, Thomas C. Schelling has established himself as the champion...Schelling's new book, Strategies of Commitment and Other Essays, takes us on a readable tour through the concerns of a major academic career.
— Robert Fulford

Times Higher Education Supplement

Whether by accident or design, this collection of essays is well timed to celebrate Thomas Schelling's winning the 2005 Nobel Prize in Economics. With one minor exception all the essays have been published previously. On the scale of Schelling's long career, most are relatively recent productions. All the characteristic features of his work—the breadth of his interests, the originality and creativity of his theorizing, the intellectual rigor of his policy analysis and the freshness and clarity of his writing—are on display. The title essay is an elegant reprise of the work for which Schelling is best known among his fellow economists: the study of strategy commitment. Several essays explore the possibilities of commitment as a mechanism of self-control. Schelling treats the individual as a collection of selves, interacting strategically with one another. He writes with empathy and imagination about the strategies by which one self tries to forestall choices that another self will want to make, and the countervailing strategies by which the latter tries to evade the constraints imposed by the former.
— Robert Sugden

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780674025677
  • Publisher: Harvard University Press
  • Publication date: 9/1/2007
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 356
  • Product dimensions: 0.74 (w) x 6.14 (h) x 9.21 (d)

Meet the Author

Thomas C. Schelling is Distinguished University Professor, Department of Economics and School of Public Affairs, University of Maryland and Lucius N. Littauer Professor of Political Economy, Emeritus, Harvard University. He is co-recipient of the 2005 Nobel Prize in Economics.
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Table of Contents

Preface

1. Strategies of Commitment

Climate and Society

2. What Makes Greenhouse Sense?

3. The Economic Diplomacy of Geoengineering

4. Intergenerational and International Discounting

Commitment as Self-Command

5. Self-Command in Practice, in Policy, and in a Theory of Rational Choice

6. Coping Rationally with Lapses from Rationality

7. Against Backsliding

8. Addictive Drugs: The Cigarette Experience

Society and Life

9. Life, Liberty, or the Pursuit of Happiness

10. Should Numbers Determine Whom to Save?

Economics and Social Policy

11. What Do Economists Know?

12. Why Does Economics Only Help with Easy Problems?

13. Prices as Regulatory Instruments

Weapons and Warfare

14. Meteors, Mischief, and War

15. Research by Accident

16. Vietnam: Reflections and Lessons

Social Dynamics

17. Social Mechanisms and Social Dynamics

18. Dynamic Models of Segregation

Decisions of the Highest Order

19. The Legacy of Hiroshima

Credits

Index

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