The World Beyond Your Head or How to Survive Brain-Eating Distractions

This from the New York Times. Yet another player on the externalist bandwagon but at least he seems rather more distinctive given his background and interests.

Mr. Crawford skips quickly past smartphones and other devices to what he sees as the deeper problem: the Enlightenment notion of the autonomous self.

To make sense of it, he dug into far-flung research in phenomenology, moral philosophy, behavioral economics and cognitive science, including the growing literature of “the extended mind,” which holds that we use tools and other objects to extend our cognitive processes beyond the boundaries of our skulls, or even our own bodies.



Austrian Theory and Economic Organization: Reaching Beyond Free Market Boundaries


The first volume (of two) edited by Guinevere Liberty Nell.

The Austrian economic school famously predicted and explained the problems of calculation in a socialist society. With their concept of spontaneous order, they challenged mainstream economists to look beyond simplified static models and consider the dynamic and evolutionary characteristics of social orders. However, many feel that Austrians took their victory too far and became ideologically devoted to laissez-faire.

Austrian Theory and Economic Organization is a collection of essays on problems and possibilities in economic organization, written by economists and political scientists with an interest in the dynamic and evolutionary nature of market economies. Each chapter explores areas of potential agreement between Austrian theory, market socialist economics, and other heterodox schools of economic and political science. The collection aims to bridge cultural and political divisions between free market advocates who stress individual rights and left-leaning thinkers who stress social justice and a culture of solidarity.


Risky business

A new article in the latest issue of the PNAS entitled “Predicting risky choices from brain activity patterns (h/t to Shannon Selin).

This study reminds me of Daniel Kahneman and Amos Tversky’s work:

Prospect theory concerns the psychophysics of wealth utility: that is, the perceived tradeoffs between potential outcomes and the probability of some outcome occurring. Kahneman and Tversky reworked Bernoulli’s long established orthodoxy of wealth utility that supposedly explained loss aversion through quantifiable states of wealth. Instead, they took the view that by asking subjective questions rather than propositional (or abstract) questions regarding terms of loss and gain, they presented a richer explanation for loss aversion. They found that that though agents like winning and dislike losing, they in effect are orientated to dislike losing more. Kahneman and Tversky (1979) initially articulated decisions under risk (as opposed to decisions under uncertainty) involving at most two non-zero outcomes. Later as cumulative prospect theory (1992) they accommodated decisions under uncertainty and risky conditions that employs cumulative, rather than separable decision weights with any number of outcomes.

Kahneman, D., & Tversky, A. 1979. Prospect theory: An analysis of decisions under risk. Econometrica, Vol. 47, No. 2: 263-291.

Kahneman, D., & Tversky, A. 1992. Advances in prospect theory: Cumulative representation of uncertainty. Journal of Risk and Uncertainty 5 (4): 297–323.