Schelling on Equilibrium

Noting that "equilibrium" does not equate to "good":

"The body of a hanged man is in equilibrium when it finally stops swinging, but nobody is going to insist that the man is all right." -- Thomas Schelling, Micromotives and Macrobehavior, pp. 26-27


  1. Who has ever said "equilibrium" is good? I never seen it used as anything other than a simple metric detached from normative claims.

    1. Thomas Schelling won the Nobel Prize in economics. He says people often misinterpret equilibrium as a normative concept. Are you saying he doesn't know what he is talking about?

    2. No, not at all. I just wasn't sure whether or not he was responding to people who say "equilibrium" is good or people who assume that it is without saying so. I'd never assume that I'm more knowledgeable in economics than a Nobel prize winner! But I wonder how many more economic concepts are mistaken for normative standards.


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