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Rational / Utilitarian TraditionPowerPoint Presentation

Rational / Utilitarian Tradition

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### Rational / Utilitarian Tradition

James Coleman

Last time

- March and Simon
- Optimizing is impossible or too costly, so people tend towards satisfactory solutions.

- Thomas Schelling
- Tacit coordination is possible despite lack of direction communication.

James Coleman

- Events have consequences:
- Consequences for those who control the event: internalities
- Consequences for those who do not control the event: externalities

- It is the latter that brings about need for social coordination.

Roommate mess

- Messy kitchen costs = x
- Cleaning kichen costs = 3x
- Jim 3x > x
- Jim after sanctioning 3x < 4x
- Sanctioning Jim = 2x
- Total benefit x < 2x

Problem of zeal

- Structure of the problem is the same: common benefit enjoyed whether or not an individual contributes.
- But when positive sanctions are effective but cost little, can lead to zeal.

Problem of voting

- B = benefit
- P = probability of positive outcome
- C = cost
- Equation on whether to vote would be: bp = b(p + (delta)p) – c
- Conclusion: don’t vote

Solution to voting problem

- Coleman p.185, conjoint norm among a group of people. (In effect you increase (delta)p by participating in a norm)
- Does it work?
- No b/c 100 person network would only increase p from, say, .00001 to .0001, still not enough.

Overview: Rational / Utilitarian tradition

- 2 fundamental characteristics
- 1. Methodological individualism.
- 2. Substantive emphasis on rationality.
- Rationality?
- Strong version: indivduals pursue selfish interests through most efficient means.
- Weak version: individuals pursue any intersts through most efficient means

Evaluation of R / U theory?

- Good: doesn’t portray people as ignorant
- Weakness?
- Doesn’t deal well with structural inequalities.
- Doesn’t deal well with cultural differences.

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