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The Cybernetic Theory of Decision

New Dimensions of Political Analysis

John D. Steinbruner

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Sozialwissenschaften, Recht, Wirtschaft / Politikwissenschaft


In this classic work, John Steinbruner argues that the time is ripe for exploration of a new theoretical perspective on the decision-making process in government. He suggests that the cybernetic theory of decision as developed in such diverse fields as information theory, mathematical logic, and behavioral psychology generates a systematic but non-rational analysis that seems to explain quite naturally decisions that are puzzling when viewed from the rational perspective. When combined with the basic understanding of human mental operations developed in cognitive psychology, the cybernetic theory of decision presents a striking picture of how decision makers deal with the intense uncertainty and fundamental value conflicts that arise in bureaucratic politics. To illustrate the advantages of using cybernetic theory, Steinbruner analyzes the issue of sharing nuclear weapons among the NATO allies.

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United States Department of State, Robert McNamara, Political science, Vulnerability (computing), Information processing, Computational complexity theory, Decision analysis, Psychology of learning, Bearing (mechanical), Multilateral Force, Perfidy, Problem solving, Uncertainty, Weapon system, Cybernetics, Public comment, Decision problem, The Logic of Collective Action, Threat (computer), Theory, Operations research, Processing (programming language), Complexity theory and organizations, Foreign policy, Bayes' theorem, Nuclear weapon, Behaviorism, Argument from analogy, Information policy, Warhead, Behavioural sciences, Precedent, Essence of Decision, Precondition, Requirement, Cognitive science, Chaos theory, Decision theory, Computer simulation, Information exchange, Cognitive psychology, Cognitive dissonance, Nuclear sharing, Rational choice theory, Decision-making, Trade-off, Calculation, Simulation, The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, Solicitation, Computer data storage, Organizational analysis, Inference, Working hypothesis, Collective security, Parameter (computer programming), Conceptualization (information science), Instance (computer science), Thomas Kuhn, Cryptography, Research and development, Information theory, Mental operations, Negotiation, Soviet Union, Dean Rusk, Deterrence (legal), Variable (computer science), Politics, Arms control