Power and Madness: The Logic of Nuclear Coercion

By Edward Rhodes | Go to book overview
Save to active project


THIS CHAPTER explores concepts of rationality and irrationality. This exploration provides the necessary foundation for consideration in the following chapters of the implications of irrational behavior for coercion. This is not a book on organizational behavior or the psychology of decision-making, and specialists in these areas may be disappointed by the cursory treatment of the subject. (By contrast, other readers may be somewhat surprised by the extent to which the subject is treated--or dismayed that it is addressed at all.) The aim here is simply to define terminology and establish basic concepts necessary for an effective discussion of coercion.

Four specific topics need to be addressed: the nature of rationality and rational behavior, the failings that would make a decision-making process irrational, the possible causes of such failings, and the notion of irrational--as distinct from inadvertent or accidental--war and escalation.


As we shall use the term "rationality," it reflects a decision-making process, rather than the substance of a decision or an outcome. An actor is rational if he employs a rational decision-making process; a rational decision-making process is one that uses information intelligently in selecting policies which maximize the decision-maker's consistently evaluated expected utility.

To say that an actor exhibits rationality is to say that his decisions


Notes for this page

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
Loading One moment ...
Project items
Cite this page

Cited page

Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited page

Bookmark this page
Power and Madness: The Logic of Nuclear Coercion


Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this book

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen
/ 276

matching results for page

Cited passage

Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.

Are you sure you want to delete this highlight?