The Cunning of Reason
Cambridge University Press, 1987 - Philosophy - 222 pages
This book is a philosophers' attempt to bring together ideas put forward by economists, sociologists and political theorists. The author begins by exploring the economist's assumption that action is rational if it helps to achieve the agent's goals as efficiently as possible. The assumption is explored with the aid of rational-choice theory and game-theory, but it is rejected in the end for failing to account for the elements of trust and morality which rational social life requires. A discussion of 'Rational Expectations' and of 'maximising' and 'satisficing' leads to a portrait of social actors as rational role-players. Rationality is, finally, the expression of the self in a social world. The book intervenes in intense current debates within and among several disciplines. Its concern is with the true nature of social actors and the proper character of social science. Its arguments are the more challenging for being presented in a simple, incisive and lucid prose. It will be of particular interest to philosophers, social theorists and social scientists interested in the philosophical aspects of their discipline.
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actors Adam Adaptive Expectations analysis basic model behaviour better Bureaucratic causal ceteris paribus chapter chess choose Cicero coercive norm consequences Cunning of Reason decision depends economic emerge example expected utilities explain external figs game-theory generalisations goals hence hermeneutic Hobbes homo homo economicus human Humean idea ideal-type identify individual instance institutions interest internal reasons internalist involved judgement Kantian Kreon Leviathan trap matter maximising means microeconomic moral motivational set move mulberries nature normative expectations omic organisations outcome perfect information philosophy of mind play players political possible prediction preferences present desires problem puzzle question ranking rational action rational agent rational choice rational expectations rational-actor model reasons for action Regulus role-players roles rules satisficer satisficing sense simply social action social contract social science solution sort sovereign artificer sub-Humean theory of rational trying understanding Verstehen Weber