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Concepts of Human Association

2 October, 2015 - 10:02

The concepts of decision and action introduced in Concepts of Decision-Making and Action relate to all decisions. They can equally well be used to analyze the decisions of a Robinson Crusoe, living and acting on an obscure island in total isolation from other people, and to analyze decisions made by individuals living in a social environment, that is, in the presence of other individuals. Only in this second case, however, do we find politics.

The presence or absence of other people is certainly an important part of the circumstances C within which all decisions must be made. If there are other people present, as is usually the case, one of the side effects Y which the decision-maker may need to consider is how these other people will react to various possible actions that are being considered.

One way to try to predict how another person will react to a given action on our part is to imagine how we would act if we were in that other person's shoes, given his or her values and circumstances. Note that the complexity of such a calculation may soon become unmanageable, since the other person in turn could be taking into account how we will react to his or her reaction!

Associations as we will be defining them here arise when the satisfaction of one person is changed by the action of another person. Since not all actions produce changes in other people's satisfaction, actions do not always produce associations, but associations are one possible result of actions. We will be particularly interested in organizations, which we will see are one particular type of association, since governments—the central focal point of political science—are organizations.

Let us approach the concepts of human association cautiously and systematically: