My family love me and think highly of me, but they also tend to think I’m a fake and a fence-sitter. For example, my libertarian brother-in-law believes I hedge too much when I tell him I like government and finds it so frustrating to talk to me that he prefers to give me books to read. (Thanks, Tom, I do read your books!) Bottom line, they think I don’t really hold any true views and just love to pontificate. Equally, I get frustrated with their insistence that there must be a simple answer for everything and their tendency to think in black and white.
“How Change Happens” has treated me to a large dose of my own medicine!
Cass Sunstein has basically stringed together sixteen (count’em) chapters on the multiple facets of the landscape where morals meet needs, paternalism confronts freedom, ethics brush with welfare, transparency with privacy etc.
Cool stuff. It’s like “Freakonomics,” but much more authoritative, in ten times better English, on weightier subjects, better thought-out, and backed with the results of research often conducted by the author himself.
If you’ve ever grappled with any of these questions, “How Change Happens” will, at the very least, equip you with the necessary language to better express your thoughts. For me, that moment came with the distinction between what the author calls “utilitarianism” and what he calls “deontology,” namely the struggle we often face between doing what will work out best and doing what our conscience tells us is “the right thing.”
Halfway through the book, however, you come to realize that his answer to any moral dilemma, invariably, will turn out to be “it depends.”
Except that’s not true either. Toward the end of the book he moves on to the even less satisfactory “it is actually impossible to tell.”
So this is a list of sixteen issues where either the author cannot give you a good answer or, alternatively, the author asserts there isn’t one.
And then, in a TWO PAGE summary, the author wraps up! All along, it turns out, you have been reading the sixteen lemmas of a mathematical theorem.
The theorem says “we have no idea how change happens and it’s impossible to know.”
Oh, and it’s not stated, the statement of the theorem is left to the reader.
You know, professor, that’s very cute. But when I buy a book that’s entitled “How Change Happens” I expect to read a book on how change happens, not a mathematical proof that we don’t know and most certainly not 100+ pages of rebuttal on various criticisms of your nudge theory, OK?
That was my time I just spent reading your musings.
- Hardcover: 344 pages
- Publisher: MIT Press Ltd; 1 edition (26 February 2019)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0262039575
- ISBN-13: 978-0262039574
- Product Dimensions: 15.2 x 2.8 x 22.9 cm
- Boxed-product Weight: 653 g
- Average Customer Review: Be the first to review this item
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 15,341 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)