Monday, September 19, 2011

Rational Choice and Nudge Theory: A Reading List

Readers have asked me to post my reading lists for classes taught in 2011-12. My teaching load is fairly light and I've normally had a 0-1 load because of my administrative duties, but this year I'll be co-teaching on Introduction to Political Thought (UG) and "module leader" on a course on political justice and public policy (Justice, Morality, and the State) (PG).

I have been asked to give a lecture and seminar on the topic of Rational Choice and Its Critics with a focus on understanding political behaviour in political science for a co-taught course on research methods. My required readings are:

Andrew Hindmoor, Rational Choice. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2006.


Richard Thaler and Cass Sunstein, Nudge: Improving Decisions about Health, Wealth and Happiness. London: Penguin, 2008.

Recommended background reading:

Michael Allingham, Choice Theory. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2002.


Dan Ariely, Predictably Irrational: The Hidden Forces That Shape Our Decisions. London: HarperCollins, 2008.


Tim Harford, The Logic of Life: Uncovering the New Economics of Everything. London: Little, Brown, 2008.


Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner, Freakonomics: A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything. London: Penguin, 2005.

Recommended reading:

Samuel Abrams, Torben Iversen, and David Soskice, ‘Informal Social Networks and Rational Voting’, British Journal of Political Science 41 (2010): 229-57.


On Amir and Orly Lobel, ‘Stumble, Predict, Nudge: How Behavioral Economics Informs Law and Policy’, Columbia Law Review 108 (2008): 2098-138.


Kenneth J. Arrow, Social Choice and Individual Values. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1951.


Gary S. Becker, The Economic Approach to Human Behavior. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1976.


-----------, A Treatise on the Family. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1981.


Matthew Crenson, ‘The Private Stake in Public Goods: Overcoming the Illogic of Collective Action’, Policy Sciences 20 (1987): 221-29.


Anthony Downs, An Economic Theory of Democracy. New York: Harper & Row, 1957.


Jon Elster (ed.), Rational Choice. Oxford: Blackwell, 1987.


Michael Ferejohn and Morris P. Fiorina, ‘The Paradox of Not Voting: A Decision Theoretic Analysis’, American Political Science Review 68 (1974): 525-36.


Donald P. Green and Ian Shapiro, Pathologies of Rational Choice Theory: A Critique of Applications in Political Science. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1994.


Iain Hampsher-Monk and Andrew Hindmoor, ‘Rational Choice and Interpretive Evidence: Caught between a Rock and a Hard Place?’ Political Studies 58 (2010): 47-65.


Garrett Hardin, ‘The Tragedy of the Commons’, Science 162 (1968): 1243-48.


Daniel M. Hausman and Brynn Welch, ‘Nudge or Not to Nudge’, Journal of Political Philosophy 18 (2010): 123-36.


Andrew Hindmoor, ‘Policy Innovation and the Dynamics of Party Competition: A Schumpeterian Account of British Electoral Politics, 1950-2005’, British Journal of Politics and International Relations 10 (2008): 492-508.


----------, ‘“Major Combat Operations Have Ended”? Arguing about Rational Choice’, British Journal of Political Science 41 (2010): 191-210.


Peter John, Graham Smith, and Gerry Stoker, ‘Nudge Nudge, Think Think: Two Strategies for Changing Civic Behaviour’, Political Quarterly 80 (2009): 361-70.


Michael Laver, The Politics of Private Desires: The Guide to the Politics of Rational Choice. Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1981.


Iain McLean, Rational Choice and British Politics: An Analysis of Rhetoric and Manipulation from Peel to Blair. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2001.


Rebecca S. Morrison and Peter C. Ordeshook, ‘Rational Choice, Light Guessing and the Gambler’s Fallacy’, Public Choice 22 (1975): 79-89.


Mancur Olson, The Logic of Collective Action. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1957.


Amartya Sen, ‘Rational Fools: A Critique of the Behavioral Foundations of Economic Theory’, Philosophy and Public Affairs 6 (1977): 317-44.


Online sources:


Behavioural Insight Team, Cabinet Office, HM Government (HERE).


Chris Bonell, Martin McKee, Adam Fletcher, Paul Wilkinson, and Andy Haines, ‘Editorial: One Nudge Forward, Two Steps Back’, British Medical Journal 342 (2011): 401 (HERE).


Daniel Hausman, ‘Rational Choice Theory’ in ‘Philosophy of Economics’, Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (HERE).


The Nudge Blog (HERE).

I would be extremely interested in reader recommendations for alternative and/or additional readings. Anything important missing?

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