It beats perishing

*Hume’s Politics* (by Andrew Sabl) is now available.

My book Hume’s Politics: Coordination and Crisis in the History of England is, at long last, in print.

Alert readers may have noticed that I often link to a book’s page at Powell’s, rather than Amazon. But in this case Powell’s price is unaccountably high compared to the list price at Princeton University Press (above), or at Barnes and Noble, which discounts the book even further to just above forty bucks and also has an e-reader version available (as Amazon doesn’t yet).

By the way, please ignore the cliché in this case and judge the book by its cover:

Hume's Politics - Andrew Sabl

Author: Andrew Sabl

I'm a political theorist and Visiting Professor (through 2017) in the Program on Ethics, Politics and Economics at Yale. My interests include the history of political thought, toleration, democratic theory, political ethics, problems of coordination and convention, the realist movement in political theory, and the thought of David Hume. My first book, Ruling Passions: Political Offices and Democratic Ethics (Princeton, 2002) covered many of these topics, with a special focus on the varieties of democratic politics and the disparate qualities of mind and character appropriate to those who practice each of them. My second book Hume's Politics: Coordination and Crisis in the History of England was published in 2012; I am currently finishing a book on toleration, with the working title The Virtues of Hypocrisy, under contract with Harvard University Press. A Los Angeles native, I got my B.A. and Ph.D. from Harvard. Before coming to Yale I taught at Vanderbilt and at UCLA, where I was an Assistant, Associate, and Full Professor; and held visiting positions at Williams, Harvard, and Princeton. I am married to Miriam Laugesen, who teaches health policy and the politics of health care at the Mailman School of public health at Columbia, and we have a twelve-year-old son.

8 thoughts on “It beats perishing”

  1. I read the book in manuscript. It’s a game-changer. Here’s my review from Amazon.

    Andrew Sabl is a first-class political theorist who isn’t afraid of a little bit of math. His earlier book, Ruling Passions, broke new ground in role ethics, with nary an equation in sight. His new book still has the literary flair of an accomplished writer, but it breaks new ground in a different way, by applying the theory of cooperation games and and coordination games to Hume’s History of England. The result is nothing short of breath-taking.

    Sabl convincingly argues that the History – the best-selling book in English, bar the Bible, for a century after its publication – was no mere pot-boiler, but the detailed working-out, by example, of Hume’s well-known thesis that government rests on opinion. It turns out that the “opinion” in question is of a highly recursive nature: my opinion about the opinions of others guides, and must guide, any sort of rational political action on my part.

    Of course Hume didn’t draw games matrices in this anticipation of Schelling, any more than he drew demand curves in his anticipation of classical political economy. But Sabl’s analysis makes the ideas he attributes to Hume both clearer and more compelling.

    Ruling Passions was too far out of the mainstream of contemporary political theory to command as much attention as it deserved. Hume’s Politics seems destined to be an instant sensation and a lasting classic. Who knows? It might even convince some fans of rational-choice political science that Downs, Riker, and Buchanan & Tullock were not the first writers with something interesting to say about politics.

  2. Congratulations are in order.

    That being said, I’m sorry, and it sounds like a fascinating book, and I’d normally be interested in adding it to the looming pile of books I intend one day to read – but I don’t think I’m going to, just because of the price. Heck, I’d consider donating money to support the blog, but the price point on this book simply takes it outside of the realms of a casual reading/book-acquisition decision, at least for me. I understand that you can hope to make little if any money from it, and I’m not accusing anybody of any particular greed – but $50 is simply too high. This book is priced only to be sold to academic institutions, to particular enthusiasts especially dedicated to the topic, and to people vastly less price-sensitive than I am.

  3. It is a magnificent cover–the Our Books thumbnail grabbed my eye immediately–so the text must be exquisite.

    1. but the cover depicts a time 200 years before Hume. Is that the focus of his History, Tudor times?

      1. The *History* covers everything from the invasion of Julius Caesar to the Glorious Revolution. The press could have gone with depictions of all kinds of things. But this painting struck me, and the scene is actually apt given the book’s larger themes: the kneeling lords are acknowledging Mary, and in a few years will overwhelmingly acknowledge her half-sister Elizabeth, standing behind her, in spite of the religious factionalism that might make doing both seem impossible: the constitutional convention of hereditary monarchy was by then that strong.

Comments are closed.