Private Desires, Political Action is an accessible overview of one of the most important approaches to the study of politics in the modern world - rational choice theory. Michael Laver does not set out to review this entire field, but rather to discuss how we might use rational choice theory to analyze the political competition that affects almost every aspect of our lives. The broad-ranging scope of the book introduces the theory at many levels of analysis, including: the private desires of individuals; the social context of how people fulfil their desires; and the problems of collective action. The discussion of these problems extends into the arena of politics, where the activities of `political entrepreneurs' or
Chapter 1: Introduction
The Politics of Private Desires
This book is about the political consequences of private desires. It presents an interpretation of the political world that is based upon the assumption that people get involved in politics in order to further their own personal objectives.
While such a view of the world may seem to leave little room for the politics of altruism and self-sacrifice, this is not as depressing as it might seem at first sight, for two main reasons. First, I set firmly on one side the issue of where people's objectives might actually come from. I certainly do not believe in original sin, but I do leave the ‘nature versus nurture’ argument about the sources of our private desires to the realms of sociology and ...