Michael Taylor (political scientist)

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Michael Taylor (born September 27,1942, in Derby, England) is Professor Emeritus of Political Science at the University of Washington, Seattle, where he worked from 1985 to 2002. From 1966 to 1985 he was in the Department of Government at the University of Essex in England.

Trained as a mathematician, he moved into social science and did pioneering early work in mathematical political theory. His work in game theory, including original analyses of the n-person Prisoner's Dilemma game and the logic of collective action, resulted in an influential book, "Anarchy and Cooperation" (1976), later revised and extended as "The Possibility of Cooperation" (Cambridge, 1982). A second book on cooperation in the absence of centralized government, "Community, Anarchy and Liberty", was published in 1982 (Cambridge), and a study of "Rationality and Revolutionary Collective Action" appeared in his edited volume, "Rationality and Revolution" (Cambridge 1988).

He became increasingly disenchanted with the rational choice approach to political theory and published "Rationality and the Ideology of Disconnection" (Cambridge, 2006), an attack on the economic way of thinking about the world, especially the natural world. The book was described by James C. Scott as "a brilliant and devastating critique" that "deserves to be the bible at the bedside of recovering rational choice theorists and a warning to others of the intellectual straitjacket it represents."

Since then, when not working on his land, he has been preparing a further study of economism and 'progress' and a study of rivers and salmon and climate change.

He has been a Fellow of the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences, Stanford, and of the Netherlands Institute for Advanced Studies, a visiting professor at the Institute for Advanced Studies, Vienna, at the European University Institute, Florence, and at Yale University, and a Visiting Fellow at the Research School of Social Sciences of the Australian National University.

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