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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.

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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.