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Risk, Choice, and Uncertainty: Three Centuries of Economic Decision-Making

Risk, Choice, and Uncertainty: Three Centuries of Economic Decision-Making

Current price: $32.00
Publication Date: January 7th, 2020
Columbia University Press
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At its core, economics is about making decisions. In the history of economic thought, great intellectual prowess has been exerted toward devising exquisite theories of optimal decision making in situations of constraint, risk, and scarcity. Yet not all of our choices are purely logical, and so there is a longstanding tension between those emphasizing the rational and irrational sides of human behavior. One strand develops formal models of rational utility maximizing while the other draws on what behavioral science has shown about our tendency to act irrationally.

In Risk, Choice, and Uncertainty, George G. Szpiro offers a new narrative of the three-century history of the study of decision making, tracing how crucial ideas have evolved and telling the stories of the thinkers who shaped the field. Szpiro examines economics from the early days of theories spun from anecdotal evidence to the rise of a discipline built around elegant mathematics through the past half century's interest in describing how people actually behave. Considering the work of Locke, Bentham, Jevons, Walras, Friedman, Tversky and Kahneman, Thaler, and a range of other thinkers, he sheds light on the vast scope of discovery since Bernoulli first proposed a solution to the St. Petersburg Paradox. Presenting fundamental mathematical theories in easy-to-understand language, Risk, Choice, and Uncertainty is a revelatory history for readers seeking to grasp the grand sweep of economic thought.

About the Author

George G. Szpiro is an award-winning author and journalist. A longtime correspondent for the Swiss daily Neue Zürcher Zeitung, his many books include Numbers Rule: The Vexing Mathematics of Democracy, from Plato to the Present (2010) and Pricing the Future: Finance, Physics, and the 300-Year Journey to the Black-Scholes Equation (2011).