Shackle on gambling

"Even in gambles in which the downside outcome involves money being lost, gamblers get something that is not available by holding on to their money, namely, the opportunity to 'indulge their hopes' by imagining what it would be like to receive a gain of some kind. In other words, the traditional theory of risktaking mistakenly focuses purely on the value the decision-maker would assign to each potential outcome if it actually eventuated. It thereby ignores the impact that expectations about the possible outcome of a gamble have on how one feels between the moment of choice and the revelation of the outcome. This is an early statement of an idea that he later developed at length as 'enjoyment by anticipation'..." -- G. L. S. Shackle, p. 104

This passage does, unfortunately, illustrate the authors' penchant for clunky writing. What do they mean, "Even in gambles in which the downside outcome involves money being lost..." It's not a gamble if there is no risk of losing, and it hardly matters if what is lost is money in particular. A bit later, they choose to write "if it actually eventuated," when "if it actually happened" sounds a lot more like real English to me, and says the same thing.


  1. I think they mean "Even in gambles in which the downside outcome involving money being lost actually occurs, gamblers ... "

    1. Yes, that is what I think they mean too! That is why I say "clunky writing," and not "false ideas": the idea was sound, they just said it badly.


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