100 books like The Community of Advantage

By Robert Sugden,

Here are 100 books that The Community of Advantage fans have personally recommended if you like The Community of Advantage. Shepherd is a community of 11,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Book cover of Against Empathy: The Case for Rational Compassion

Vangelis Chiotis Author Of The Morality of Economic Behaviour: Economics as Ethics

From my list on economic morality.

Why am I passionate about this?

Two self-interested people will try to outperform each other. One will win, the other will lose. If they instead cooperate, both will win a bit, and lose a bit. Is this preferable? I say yes, because in the long term, winning a bit many times, is better than winning a lot, once. Choosing short-term gain at the expense of long-term benefit is a waste of potential for societies and individuals. Traditional morality works, sometimes, in some cases. Rational morality can fill the gaps, and expand the circle of morality so that when higher ideals fail or become too difficult to follow, rationality can be about more than just short-term self-interest.

Vangelis' book list on economic morality

Vangelis Chiotis Why did Vangelis love this book?

Paul Bloom wants to persuade the reader to be against empathy, as he is, because morally we’re better off without empathy.

He is right, and I see his argument as similar to the argument made by Sugden, although its structure is very different. Bloome, rightly, says that we cannot rely on empathy to be moral – we need something more and something more tangible.

That something might be rationality, although Bloome himself prefers to speak of reason. Moral theories have for too long relied on unstable ground: empathy and moral character.

If we care about morality, we must ground it on more solid ground.

By Paul Bloom,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Against Empathy as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In a divided world, empathy is not the solution, it is the problem; a source of prejudice, not kindness.

We think of empathy - the ability to feel the suffering of others for ourselves - as the ultimate source of all good behaviour. But while it inspires care and protection in personal relationships, it has the opposite effect in the wider world. As the latest research in psychology and neuroscience shows, we feel empathy most for those we find attractive and who seem similar to us and not at all for those who are different, distant or anonymous. Empathy therefore…


Book cover of Minimal Morality: A Multilevel Social Contract Theory

Vangelis Chiotis Author Of The Morality of Economic Behaviour: Economics as Ethics

From my list on economic morality.

Why am I passionate about this?

Two self-interested people will try to outperform each other. One will win, the other will lose. If they instead cooperate, both will win a bit, and lose a bit. Is this preferable? I say yes, because in the long term, winning a bit many times, is better than winning a lot, once. Choosing short-term gain at the expense of long-term benefit is a waste of potential for societies and individuals. Traditional morality works, sometimes, in some cases. Rational morality can fill the gaps, and expand the circle of morality so that when higher ideals fail or become too difficult to follow, rationality can be about more than just short-term self-interest.

Vangelis' book list on economic morality

Vangelis Chiotis Why did Vangelis love this book?

Minimal Morality offers an account of moral pluralism to fit modern pluralistic societies that have competing and diverse values and norms.

As opposed to the other books in the list, the moral theory here starts with assumptions about the moral character of agents; “no moral in, no moral out” (p. 7).

However, the books is relevant to the discussion about the links between rational and moral behavior because it discusses different ways to be moral and offers a way to address moral disagreement, which can shed light on the discussion about how to reconcile rationality with morality.

By Michael Moehler,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Minimal Morality as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Michael Moehler develops a novel multilevel social contract theory. In contrast to existing theories in the liberal tradition, it does not merely assume a restricted form of reasonable moral pluralism, but is tailored to the conditions of deeply morally pluralistic societies which may be populated by liberal moral agents, nonliberal moral agents, and, according to the traditional understanding of morality, nonmoral agents alike. Moehler draws on the history of the
social contract tradition, especially the work of Hobbes, Hume, Kant, Rawls, and Gauthier, as well as on the work of some of the critics of this tradition, such as Sen…


Book cover of Signals: Evolution, Learning, and Information

Vangelis Chiotis Author Of The Morality of Economic Behaviour: Economics as Ethics

From my list on economic morality.

Why am I passionate about this?

Two self-interested people will try to outperform each other. One will win, the other will lose. If they instead cooperate, both will win a bit, and lose a bit. Is this preferable? I say yes, because in the long term, winning a bit many times, is better than winning a lot, once. Choosing short-term gain at the expense of long-term benefit is a waste of potential for societies and individuals. Traditional morality works, sometimes, in some cases. Rational morality can fill the gaps, and expand the circle of morality so that when higher ideals fail or become too difficult to follow, rationality can be about more than just short-term self-interest.

Vangelis' book list on economic morality

Vangelis Chiotis Why did Vangelis love this book?

Brian Skyrms works on evolutionary game theory, among other things.

Signals is set in this context but focuses on the importance of information and communication for cooperation, and morality. We cannot cooperate, if we cannot communicate. And we cannot be moral, if we are not cooperative.

Thus, morality is born out of sociability, which is born out of communication. Like Sugden, Skyrms does not assume a moral character but ends up with a moral outcome.

An alternative understanding of Signals is focused on evolution. Signals, meaning and communication follow evolutionary dynamics, similarly to moral and social norms.

Understanding communication is vital to understand our social behavior, and it is especially topical today when communication takes many means and forms.

By Brian Skyrms,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Signals as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Brian Skyrms presents a fascinating exploration of how fundamental signals are to our world. He uses a variety of tools - theories of signaling games, information, evolution, and learning - to investigate how meaning and communication develop. He shows how signaling games themselves evolve, and introduces a new model of learning with invention. The juxtaposition of atomic signals leads to complex signals, as the natural product of gradual process. Signals
operate in networks of senders and receivers at all levels of life. Information is transmitted, but it is also processed in various ways. That is how we think - signals…


Book cover of A Cooperative Species: Human Reciprocity and Its Evolution

Vangelis Chiotis Author Of The Morality of Economic Behaviour: Economics as Ethics

From my list on economic morality.

Why am I passionate about this?

Two self-interested people will try to outperform each other. One will win, the other will lose. If they instead cooperate, both will win a bit, and lose a bit. Is this preferable? I say yes, because in the long term, winning a bit many times, is better than winning a lot, once. Choosing short-term gain at the expense of long-term benefit is a waste of potential for societies and individuals. Traditional morality works, sometimes, in some cases. Rational morality can fill the gaps, and expand the circle of morality so that when higher ideals fail or become too difficult to follow, rationality can be about more than just short-term self-interest.

Vangelis' book list on economic morality

Vangelis Chiotis Why did Vangelis love this book?

For Gintis, morality is the result of social evolution.

Humans are meant to cooperate and behave morally because of the evolutionary history of our societies. If humans are social animals, then it follows, they must be moral animals as well.

Gintis, unlike the previous authors in the list, focuses on the social, rather than the individual, to also argue for a moral theory that does not depend on or stem from individual moral character, or moral constraints on behavior.

This is an important argument because it highlights, at least implicitly, that we have a lot in common with social animals and as such, we can learn a lot from animal societies, as well as from early human societies.

By Samuel Bowles, Herbert Gintis,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked A Cooperative Species as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Why do humans, uniquely among animals, cooperate in large numbers to advance projects for the common good? Contrary to the conventional wisdom in biology and economics, this generous and civic-minded behavior is widespread and cannot be explained simply by far-sighted self-interest or a desire to help close genealogical kin. In A Cooperative Species, Samuel Bowles and Herbert Gintis--pioneers in the new experimental and evolutionary science of human behavior--show that the central issue is not why selfish people act generously, but instead how genetic and cultural evolution has produced a species in which substantial numbers make sacrifices to uphold ethical norms…


Book cover of The Oxford Handbook of Adam Smith

Andreas Ortmann and Benoit Walraevens Author Of Adam Smith's System: A Re-Interpretation Inspired by Smith's Lectures on Rhetoric, Game Theory, and Conjectural History

From my list on the Adam and smith of modern economics.

Why are we passionate about this?

 AO: I have been intrigued by the Adam and smith (a play on Adam Smith’s name due to K. Boulding) of social sciences ever since, as a graduate student, I was given the privilege to teach a history-of-thought course. I found a lot of wisdom in Smith’s works and continue to find it with every new read. BW: I first met Adam Smith when I was studying for my master’s degree in economics almost twenty years ago. Since then, I have enjoyed rereading him, always finding new sources of fascination and insights. For me, Smith's work is endlessly rich and remains astonishingly topical, three centuries after his birth. 

Andreas and Benoit's book list on the Adam and smith of modern economics

Andreas Ortmann and Benoit Walraevens Why did Andreas and Benoit love this book?

This handbook, edited by three well-known Smith scholars, follows on from a conference organised for the 250th anniversary of the publication of Smith’s Theory of Moral Sentiments although it is not a proceedings volume.

The book has seven parts, each part featuring four chapters. These 28 chapters cover all bases, from an introductory outline of life, times, and legacy, over the importance of Smith’s unpublished work, the importance to Smith of rhetoric, ethics, aesthetics, theatre, and fashion, to Smith’s view on commerce and morality, his view on religion, and Smith’s legacy and influence, among many other topics.

By Christopher J. Berry (editor), Maria Pia Paganelli (editor), Craig Smith (editor)

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Oxford Handbook of Adam Smith as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Adam Smith (1723-90) is a thinker with a distinctive perspective on human behaviour and social institutions. He is best known as the author of the An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations (1776). Yet his work is name-checked more often than it is read and then typically it is of an uninformed nature; that he is an apologist for capitalism, a forceful promoter of self-interest, a defender of greed and a critic of any 'interference' in market transactions . To offset this caricature, this Handbook provides an informed portrait. Drawing on the expertise of leading…


Book cover of The Affluent Society

Mark R. Reiff Author Of On Unemployment: A Micro-Theory of Economic Justice: Volume 1

From my list on what causes economic injustice.

Why am I passionate about this?

F. Scott Fitzgerald claimed, “there are no second acts in American lives.” But I am on my third. I started out in the theatre, then became a lawyer, and then a political philosopher. What drove each move is that I was always outraged by injustice and wanted to find a better way to fight against it. For me, reading, writing, and teaching political philosophy turned out to be that way. The books on this list provide important lessons on how certain economic policies can cause injustice while others can cure it. Each has been around for a long time, but they are as relevant today as when they were first written. 

Mark's book list on what causes economic injustice

Mark R. Reiff Why did Mark love this book?

How can a society as rich as ours leave so many people behind?

Published in 1958, this book opened my eyes to the importance of economic justice—I first read it in the late 1970s when I was nineteen.

But it is still mind-blowing today, for neither the wrongheadedness of prevailing economic policy nor the solutions that are available for us to do better have changed.

By John Kenneth Galbraith,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked The Affluent Society as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

John Kenneth Galbraith's international bestseller The Affluent Society is a witty, graceful and devastating attack on some of our most cherished economic myths.

As relevant today as when it was first published over forty years ago, this newly updated edition of Galbraith's classic text on the 'economics of abundance', lays bare the hazards of individual and social complacency about economic inequality.

Why worship work and productivity if many of the goods we produce are superfluous - artificial 'needs' created by high-pressure advertising? Why begrudge expenditure on vital public works while ignoring waste and extravagance in the private sector of the…


Book cover of Anathem

A. David Redish Author Of Changing How We Choose: The New Science of Morality

From my list on across the boundary of poetry, science, and society.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have long been fascinated by what makes us human. Great art is about the human condition. We are very quick to reject art that gets that human condition wrong. I’m a poet, a playwright, and a scientist.  While my science has found itself at the center of fields such as computational psychiatry and neuroeconomics, I find myself turning again and again to the insights from great novels to understand the subtleties of the human condition. So to complement the scientific questions of morality (because morality is all about the human condition), one should start with great novels that ask who we are and why we do what we do.  

A.'s book list on across the boundary of poetry, science, and society

A. David Redish Why did A. love this book?

A science fiction tale couched in the language of a novel study of academia, Anathem by Neal Stephenson describes a world in which monk-like academicians ensconce themselves away in “maths” which shut their doors to the world for a day, a year, a decade, a century, or a millennium. 

A marvelous vision on what it means to study something, to understand it, and, thus to see the world from a different perspective.

By Neal Stephenson,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Anathem as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Since childhood, Raz has lived behind the walls of a 3,400-year-old monastery, a sanctuary for scientists, philosophers, and mathematicians. There, he and his cohorts are sealed off from the illiterate, irrational, unpredictable "saecular" world, an endless landscape of casinos and megastores that is plagued by recurring cycles of booms and busts, dark ages and renaissances, world wars and climate change. Until the day that a higher power, driven by fear, decides it is only these cloistered scholars who have the abilities to avert an impending catastrophe. And, one by one, Raz and his friends, mentors, and teachers are summoned forth…


Book cover of The Oxford Handbook of Ethics and Economics

Eyal Zamir and Barak Medina Author Of Law, Economics, and Morality

From my list on ethics and economics.

Why are we passionate about this?

We are law professors at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Eyal Zamir is interested in the intersections of law, economics, ethics, and psychology. In addition to theoretical studies of these issues, he engages in experimental legal studies, as well. Barak Medina studies constitutional law, human rights, and economic analysis of law. He is interested in constitutional interpretation and the interaction between common-sense morality, public opinion and adjudication.

Eyal's book list on ethics and economics

Eyal Zamir and Barak Medina Why did Eyal love this book?

This collection of essays by some of the leading contemporary scholars in ethics and in economics provides both critical surveys of the various interactions between these two bodies of thought and original suggestions for future advancements in this important intersection.

The collection includes both general and theoretical inquiries and more specific applications. It may be of interest both to academics (scholars and students) and to policymakers and laypersons.

By Mark D. White (editor),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Oxford Handbook of Ethics and Economics as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Economics and ethics are both valuable tools for analyzing the behavior and actions of human beings and institutions. Adam Smith, the father of modern economics, considered them two sides of the same coin, but since economics was formalized and mathematicised in the late 1800s and early 1900s, the fields have largely followed separate paths.

The Oxford Handbook of Ethics and Economics provides a timely and thorough survey of the various ways ethics can, does, and should inform economic theory and practice. The first part of the book, Foundations, explores how the most prominent schools of moral philosophy relate to economics;…


Book cover of The Routledge Guidebook to Smith's Wealth of Nations

Christopher J. Berry Author Of Adam Smith: A Very Short Introduction

From my list on who Adam Smith was and why he's still important.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve studied Smith and his Scottish contemporaries, off and on, for over fifty years. My whole professional career has been spent at Glasgow University where Smith was both a student and later professor. I thus have a personal affinity to him and his work, all the more so because his published writings were all trailed in his professorial classroom. While I have published extensively on Smith, the particular book of mine that I’ve selected was chosen because I wanted to distill all my scholarship into a volume that would be accessible to non-academics. 

Christopher's book list on who Adam Smith was and why he's still important

Christopher J. Berry Why did Christopher love this book?

The title of this book unambiguously states its purpose. What, above all, impressed me was how Paganelli, an academic economist, fulfilled this purpose so splendidly. The Wealth of Nations is one of the great books in the history of economics, but it is a large and somewhat intimidating volume, which has meant it has usually been cited without ever being read.

This book systematically and carefully explains the book chapter by chapter but never misses ‘the wood for the trees’. While ideal for students, with guides for future reading, for anyone who just wants to discover what this great book says beyond headline summaries, and why it is important, this is the text to read.

By Maria Pia Paganelli,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Routledge Guidebook to Smith's Wealth of Nations as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Adam Smith (1723-1790) is famous around the world as the founding father of economics, and his ideas are regularly quoted and invoked by politicians, business leaders, economists, and philosophers. However, considering his fame, few people have actually read the whole of his magnum opus The Wealth of Nations - the first book to describe and lay out many of the concepts that are crucial to modern economic thinking. The Routledge Guidebook to Smith's Wealth of Nations provides an accessible, clear, and concise introduction to the arguments of this most notorious and influential of economic texts. The Guidebook examines:

the historical…


Book cover of The Lessons of History

Aparna Pande Author Of From Chanakya to Modi: Evolution of India's Foreign Policy

From my list on history and foreign policy.

Why am I passionate about this?

Foreign policy has been my passion since I was a child. My father was a civil servant and growing up in India, I always wanted to follow in his footsteps but instead of working on domestic issues, I wanted to work on international affairs. History was another passion of mine and I wanted to combine the two of them in such a way that I studied the past in order to explain the present and help the future. This passion led me to enroll in a PhD program in the United States and then work at a think tank. I have written three books, two of which focus exclusively on foreign policy. I hope you enjoy reading the books I have listed and read my book.  

Aparna's book list on history and foreign policy

Aparna Pande Why did Aparna love this book?

This classic, written by the authors of the 11-volume The Story of Civilization, is a must-read for those who want to understand everything, from history to economics, from foreign policy to politics. I have read and re-read this book multiple times as it is my go-to book for when I rethink issues and problems. This short collection of essays offers simple yet critical lessons on geography, biology, economics, religion, and government all of which help explain the foreign policies of empires and states.  

By Will Durant, Ariel Durant,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Lessons of History as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In this illuminating and thoughtful book, Will and Ariel Durant have succeeded in distilling for the reader the accumulated store of knowledge and experience from their five decades of work on the eleven monumental volumes of The Story of Civilization. The result is a survey of human history, full of dazzling insights into the nature of human experience, the evolution of civilization, and the culture of man. With the completion of their life's work, they look back and ask what history has to say about the nature, the conduct and the prospects of man, seeking in the great lives, the…


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