Knowledge And Decisions / Edition 2 available in Paperback
- Pub. Date:
- Basic Books
With a new preface by the author, this reissue of Thomas Sowell's classic study of decision making updates his seminal work in the context of The Vision of the Annointed, Sowell, one of America's most celebrated public intellectuals, describes in concrete detail how knowledge is shared and disseminated throughout modern society. He warns that society suffers from an ever-widening gap between firsthand knowledge and decision makinga gap that threatens not only our economic and political efficiency, but our very freedom because actual knowledge gets replaced by assumptions based on an abstract and elitist social vision f what ought to be.Knowledge and Decisions, a winner of the 1980 Law and Economics Center Prize, was heralded as a ”landmark work” and selected for this prize ”because of its cogent contribution to our understanding of the differences between the market process and the process of government.” In announcing the award, the center acclaimed Sowell, whose ”contribution to our understanding of the process of regulation alone would make the book important, but in reemphasizing the diversity and efficiency that the market makes possible, [his] work goes deeper and becomes even more significant.”
About the Author
Thomas Sowell has taught economics at a number of colleges and universities, including Cornell, University of California Los Angeles, and Amherst. He has published both scholarly and popular articles and books on economics, and is currently a scholar in residence at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University.
What People are Saying About This
"This is a brilliant book. Sowell illuminates how every society operates. In the process, he also shows how the performance of our own society can be improved."
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
This book appeared on a list of 100 influential science books for the millenium, published in The American Scientist. Sowell is an economist, and from some other mentions of his name, is very convinced of the correctness of capitalism and markets. His thesis is that the market is the most efficient means of summarizing and transmitting the knowledge that individuals need when they make decisions about trading off one benefit for another. It does this by pricing goods and services against a single standard currency, so that the benefits of antipollution devices, for instance, can be compared to the benefits of fuel economy in cars. Sowell is against any form of government intervention in the markets, arguing that regulators have a vested interest in perpetuating their own organizations, and do this by markedly increasing the cost of obtaining knowledge of the relative benefits of different courses of action. Regulators and the judiciary tend to present choices among economic alternatives as "package deals" that do not allow incremental tradeoffs to take place among the various potential outcomes. Outcomes are rights rather than goods with a cost. The cost of knowing the actions of regulators is so high that only special interest groups are willing to pay for this knowledge, and to therefore attempt to influence regulator's decisions. A very stimulating book, well argued, but single-minded in its rejection of government intervention in all things.
Sowell, I have come to find, is one of the greatest philosophers of our time. Having read a few of his books, he is by far my favourite author. He writes so clearly, explaining complicated ideas in simple terms. Furthermore - he understands why the world, and America in particular, operates the way in which it does. He understands the fallacies behind the claims of liberal politicians and their socialistic movement. 'Knowledge and Decisions' was quite an eye-opening book, and I'd recommend it to all - students, teachers, etc. One could literally make an entire college course based on this one book. It's a read every scholar should have.