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Jan23 - PLCP311 A Intro a Explain why things turn out the...

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PLCP311 1/23/08 A. Intro a. Explain why things turn out the way they do and not otherwise (Weber) b. Form predictions i. Some people say just look at predictions, and we do that often ii. Need to use plasticity, knowledge… i.e. someone that lives in Va and wears sweaters from feb-march goes to Argentina packed with sweaters and coats not knowing that it’s their summer when we’re in winter because of the astronomical explanation. c. simple correlation is not enough for highly complex events d. explanation is highly important i. can make it simple, can be complex ii. major way of simplifying is to assume casual homogeneity iii. there are hundreds of explanations, not just one e. people assume a lot 1/28/08 A. Social scientists have ended up focusing on a large # of potential influences but these can usefully be organized into a small # of basic or foundational categories. We’ll be focusing on 3: interests, ideas, and institutions a. Explains political events/human behavior b. Peter Hall has made an emphasis on the blurring of these three but they are also quite separate/distinct causes B. The Boundaries b/t them aren’t perfect (and Peter Hall and some others seem to blur the lines), but are pretty coherent Basic rules of thumb C. Arguments about interests (as we’ll discuss them) focus attention on economic facts and motivations. Assumption that people act on their economic interests and do so in a calculating way: cost-benefit Analysis a. Basic logic: people will have different views about politics/policies they favor if their diff. “locations” in an economic system or order lead them to have different cost-benefit analyses. 1. economics as we typically understand it, is an interest- based assumption. Why do interest rates go up? Well you trace back to actions of banks to max. income or reduce costs etc.—that basic assumption that people are trying to max. their utility (profit, income, assets, etc.) 2. This implies people have choices and that they choose the one that is most beneficial to them. They are only choosing from things on the table. You have to take choices off the table that are not available to them (exceed their income for example) 3. It assumes calculation (rational choice)—Elzer is a Norwegian that assumed no one goes to the opposite side of
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the river to get water…. People would take a bucket and walk to the nearest side of the river to get water…. You go to the most cost-efficient place to get water. This is an example of rational choice. 4. If you see variation in how things turn out, it must be because their interests are different (i.e. the way people vote) 5. therefore, if you see political arguments, you can trace it back to economic elements 6. So political disagreements can be traced to such diff. and diff. in outcomes in cases 7. instrumental relationship- how people make decisions=calculate cost-benefit analysis 8. interest based argument: people will shift their choices… i.e. if you like college inn better than newcomb you will
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