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Competition and Cooperation

Competition and Cooperation: Conversations with Nobelists about Economics and Political Science

James E. Alt
Margaret Levi
Elinor Ostrom
Kenneth J. Arrow
Herbert A. Simon
James M. Buchanan
Gary S. Becker
Douglass C. North
Reinhard Selten
Copyright Date: 1999
Published by: Russell Sage Foundation
Pages: 368
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  • Book Info
    Competition and Cooperation
    Book Description:

    What can the disciplines of political science and economics learn from one another? Political scientists have recently begun to adapt economic theories of exchange, trade, and competition to the study of legislatures, parties, and voting. At the same time, some of the most innovative and influential thinkers in economics have crossed the boundaries of their discipline to explore the classic questions of political science.Competition and Cooperationfeatures six of these path-breaking scholars, all winners of the Nobel Prize for Economics, in a series of conversations with more than a dozen distinguished political scientists. The discussions analyze, adapt, and extend the Nobelists' seminal work, showing how it has carried over into political science and paved the way for fruitful cooperation between the two disciplines.

    The exchanges span all of the major conceptual legacies of the Nobel laureates: Arrow's formalization of the problems of collective decisions; Buchanan's work on constitutions and his critique of majority rule; Becker's theory of competition among interest groups; North's focus on insecure property rights and transaction costs; Simon's concern with the limits to rationality; and Selten's experimental work on strategic thinking and behavior.

    As befits any genuine dialogue, the traffic of ideas and experiences runs both ways. The Nobel economists have had a profound impact upon political science, but, in addressing political questions, they have also had to rethink many settled assumptions of economics. The standard image of economic man as a hyper-rational, self-interested creature, acting by and for for himself, bears only a passing resemblance to man as a political animal. Several of the Nobelists featured in this volume have turned instead to the insights of cognitive science and institutional analysis to provide a more recognizable portrait of political life.

    The reconsideration of rationality and the role of institutions,in economics as in politics, raises the possibility of a shared approach to individual choice and institutional behavior that gives glimmers of a new unity in the social sciences.Competition and Cooperationdemonstrates that the most important work in both economics and political science reflects a marriage of the two disciplines.

    eISBN: 978-1-61044-004-2
    Subjects: Political Science, Economics, Sociology

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-x)
    (pp. xi-xii)
    (pp. xiii-xiv)
    (pp. xv-xx)
    James E. Alt, Margaret Levi and Elinor Ostrom

    When we originally envisaged this series of conversations—asking Nobelists to talk about what they thought they had contributed to political science, and political scientists to talk about what they thought those influences were—we hardly expected that we would without much intervention produce what has proven to be a remarkably well integrated and consistent set of contributions. Of course, our contributors are not all saying the same thing by any means, but there are clear commonalties in their thoughts, and it is easy to draw out linkages among them. One theme, often unspoken but present nevertheless, pervades their remarks:...

  6. Chapter 1 KENNETH J. ARROW A Biographical Sketch
    (pp. 1-56)
    Norman Frohlich, Joe A. Oppenheimer, Norman Schofield and Kenneth J. Arrow

    Kenneth J. Arrow, Joan Kenney Professor of Economics and Professor of Operations Research at Stanford University, emeritus since 1991, is a native of New York, educated at City College. Upon graduation from there, he failed to find employment as a high school teacher and instead went on to graduate school at Columbia, where he studied under, among others, Harold Hotelling and Abraham Wald. Arrow has served on the faculties of Chicago and Harvard (and, as a visitor, at MIT and Cambridge) as well as Stanford. He holds honorary doctorates from at least fifteen universities in seven countries. He is a...

  7. Chapter 2 HERBERT A. SIMON A Biographical Sketch
    (pp. 57-119)
    Robert E. Goodin, Bryan D. Jones and Herbert A. Simon

    Herbert A. Simon was born on June 15, 1916, in a predominately German neighborhood of Milwaukee, Wisconsin. His father was an electrical engineer who emigrated to the United States, and his mother was a second-generation descendant of German immigrants to St. Louis. In addition to his strong precollege education, Simon was also an avid reader who spent hours in the local public library and museum exploring topics central to the social sciences as well as biology and physics. He entered the University of Chicago in 1933 (along with his lifelong friend Harold Guetzkow) very well prepared for a life of...

  8. Chapter 3 JAMES M. BUCHANAN A Biographical Sketch
    (pp. 120-154)
    Vincent Ostrom, Thomas Schwartz and James M. Buchanan

    James Buchanan, Harris University Professor at George Mason University, has provided an entertaining autobiographical account calledBetter Than Plowing(1992). He was born in rural Tennessee, educated locally at Middle Tennessee State Teachers College (where he supported himself by milking cows), and then had a year of graduate study in economics at the University of Tennessee. Naval service during World War II delayed his education but led to a GI subsidy on which he went to the University of Chicago to earn a Ph.D. in economics. Since then he has taught at the University of Virginia, UCLA, and Virginia Tech,...

  9. Chapter 4 GARY S. BECKER A Biographical Sketch
    (pp. 155-196)
    Ronald Rogowski, Russell Hardin and Gary S. Becker

    Gary S. Becker won the Nobel Prize in 1992. He has also been the recipient of the prestigious Seidman Prize and has served as president of the American Economic Association. He is currently Professor of Economics and Sociology at the University of Chicago, a research associate at the Economics Research Center at the National Opinion Research Center, and a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution. He also writes a monthly column forBusiness Week.

    Becker’s career has been devoted to demonstrating how the assumption of rational, maximizing agents explains behavior in a wide variety of domains and accounts even for...

  10. Chapter 5 DOUGLASS C. NORTH A Biographical Sketch
    (pp. 197-252)
    Barbara Geddes, Robert O. Keohane and Douglass C. North

    Douglass C. North was the corecipient of the 1993 Nobel Prize in Economic Science, an honor he shared with Robert Fogel for their pioneering but quite different work in economic history. He was also the first economic historian to receive the John R. Commons Award, one of the highest honors in the economics profession. He has served as president of the Economic History Association and as the second president of the International Society for the New Institutional Economics. North is the inaugural Spencer T. Olin Professor in Arts and Sciences at Washington University and a senior research fellow at the...

  11. Chapter 6 REINHARD SELTEN A Biographical Sketch
    (pp. 253-308)
    Kenneth A. Shepsle, David D. Laitin and Reinhard Selten

    Reinhard Selten was born on October 5, 1930, in Breslau, Germany. He attended high school in Melsungen, where he served in his junior and senior years as the librarian in the America-house at Melsungen. His voracious appetite for reading across the social sciences and the world of literature (including science fiction) was whetted at this time. He entered the University of Frankfort/Main and received his Ph.D. in mathematics in 1961 under the direction of Ewald Burger. His first postdoctoral academic appointment was on the team of Heinz Sauermann in the Economics Department of the University of Frankfort/Main. Selten has taught...

    (pp. 309-330)
    James M. Buchanan, Douglass C. North, Herbert A. Simon, Kenneth J. Arrow and Herbert A. Simon

    I do not propose to follow the instructions implied in the announced title for this panel session. I shall not make what would surely be an arrogant effort to tell you what I think about political science, either as an academic discipline or as a continuing source of explanation of the institutions of modern politics that we observe. I shall, instead, use this occasion to summarize three separate research programs that have commanded some of my attention and effort, in varying degrees, over the halfdecade of the mid-1990s: generality as a constitutional constraint, constitutional geometry, and federalism and communitarianism.


  13. Chapter 8 CONCLUSION
    (pp. 331-338)
    Margaret Levi, Elinor Ostrom and James E. Alt

    We began this project by thinking about how we, as political scientists, do and should take economics seriously. We conclude by realizing how much the Nobelist economists, at least the ones in this volume, do and should take politics seriously. In one sense, this is hardly surprising; it simply reflects the selection bias in our project. After all, we chose economists already in a conversation with political scientists. What we have discovered, however, is the process by which these economists came to their views about politics and how these insights influenced economics as well as political science. Nearly all of...

  14. Index
    (pp. 339-347)