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Information Cocoons

Thomas Nagel: The internet, 5 July 2001 
by Cass Sunstein.
Princeton, 224 pp., £12.95, April 2001, 0 691 07025 3
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... specialised networks applies to any type of interest whatever, and they are proliferating rapidly. Cass Sunstein, a leading American Constitutional lawyer, is duly appreciative of this expansion of possibilities, but he wants to raise the alarm about another of its consequences, like those dire warnings of possible side-effects that come with every patent ...

Reality Check

Jeremy Waldron: The One Per Cent Doctrine, 10 April 2008

Worst-Case Scenarios 
by Cass Sunstein.
Harvard, 340 pp., £16.95, November 2007, 978 0 674 02510 3
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... and think through the assumptions and strategies that adopting the One Per Cent Doctrine involves. Cass Sunstein has done this in Worst-Case Scenarios. Sunstein has written a lot on constitutional theory and judicial decision-making, and in recent years has turned his attention to descriptive and normative theories of ...


Jamie Martin: Nudge Theory, 27 July 2017

The Undoing Project: A Friendship that Changed the World 
by Michael Lewis.
Allen Lane, 362 pp., £25, December 2016, 978 0 241 25473 8
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... for him. He found out about their work after the economist Richard Thaler and the legal scholar Cass Sunstein suggested in a joint review of Moneyball that the story of Billy Beane, the general manager of the baseball team the Oakland Athletics, could be read as a case study in support of Kahneman and Tversky’s work: by trusting statistics over the ...

How stripy are tigers?

Tim Lewens: Complexity, 18 November 2010

Unsimple Truths: Science, Complexity and Policy 
by Sandra Mitchell.
Chicago, 149 pp., £19, December 2009, 978 0 226 53262 2
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... opponents of the precautionary principle, such as Barack Obama’s new regulation tsar, Cass Sunstein, have argued on the basis of these ‘paradoxes of precaution’ that the principle offers no guide for decision-making at all. Sunstein instead advocates a form of cost-benefit analysis as the best way to ...

Society as a Broadband Network

William Davies, 2 April 2020

... of micro-changes also lay at the heart of ‘nudging’, the term coined by Richard Thaler and Cass Sunstein for scarcely noticeable government interventions that alter individual behaviour with minimal effort, cost or constraint, but significant social benefit. One of the best-known examples in Thaler and ...

The Precautionary Principle

David Runciman: Taking a Chance on War, 1 April 2004

... be called precautionary if it involves a readiness to throw away lives on a supposition? As Cass Sunstein recently pointed out in his Seeley Lectures in Cambridge, the precautionary principle is flawed however it is used – whether the issue is the environment, food safety, terrorism or war – because it is self-contradictory: it can always be ...

Types of Intuition

Thomas Nagel: Intimations of Morality, 3 June 2021

... underpinnings. The approach has also been taken up by non-psychologists like Peter Singer and Cass Sunstein. Like Hume, it ascribes to deontological rules some form of social utility, but it is often disposed to find that utility more pronounced in the past, when our hunter-gatherer ancestors lived in small groups and evolutionary forces produced the ...

Let’s eat badly

William Davies: Irrationality and its Other, 5 December 2019

Irrationality: A History of the Dark Side of Reason 
by Justin E.H. Smith.
Princeton, 344 pp., £25, April 2019, 978 0 691 17867 7
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... for these insights. The popularisation of behavioural economics was led by Richard Thaler and Cass Sunstein’s book Nudge (2008), which inspired the setting-up of ‘behavioural insights’ teams in governments around the world (with Cameron’s coalition government at the forefront), and has nurtured a view of policy that is attentive to our ...

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