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Start your review of Analyzing Politics: Rationality, Behavior and Instititutions Write a review Shelves: read-for-school Great introductory textbook on rational choice theory. Shepsle makes it easy to understand the foundations of rational choice and its implications for the study of politics.
Nov 21, Steven Peterson rated it really liked it Rational choice theory has become an important perspective in many of the social sciences.
The essence of rational choice theory is presented quite straightforwardly in this book by Shepsle and Bonchek. Indeed, I have placed this book on reserve in some of my classes, to introduce students to basic concepts and assumptions of the perspective. Making decisions occurs under conditions of uncertainty. As the authors put it, page 18 , "More often than not, individuals may not have an exact sense of how an instrument or behavior they might adopt relates to the outcomes they value.
Beliefs, then, connect instruments to outcomes. When a person acts in agreement with both preferences and beliefs, the end result is "instrumental rationality. People develop a preference ordering, with some ranking higher than others. When one uses higher ranking rather than lower ranking preferences to determine what action to take, the result is "maximization" of results.
Shepsle and Bonchek put it thus page 34 : "Making a decision under conditions of risk involves choosing from among alternative lotteries. The rule of rational choice is known as the Principle of Expected Utility. Rationality calls for people to make decisions on the basis of expected utility. The key underlying assumption is that people can carry out analyses consistent with the principle of expected utility, engaging in a sort of rational means-ends analysis.
While this is a major theoretical orientation now, it is subject to considerable criticism as well. There are many well done critiques "out there.
KENNETH SHEPSLE ANALYZING POLITICS PDF