The author argues that our responses to the threat of our own inconsistency determine the basic fabric of human culture. He suggests that individuals are more like populations of bargaining agents than like the hierarchical command structures envisaged by cognitive psychologists. The forces that create and constrain these populations help us understand much that is puzzling in human action and interaction: from addictions and other self-defeating behaviors to the experience of willfulness, from pathological overcontrol and self-deception to subtler forms of behavior such as altruism, sadism, gambling, and the “social construction” of belief.
This book uniquely integrates approaches from experimental psychology, philosophy of mind, microeconomics, and decision science to present one of the most profound and expert accounts of human irrationality available. It will be of great interest to philosophers concerned with the mind and action theory. By questioning some of the basic assumptions held by social scientists about rational choice, it should be an important resource for professionals and students in psychology, economics, and political science.