Sunday, December 2, 2012

Are Bargains Coercive?

So, I got this in a fortune cookie, having dinner with Geoff Sayre-McCord and some folks from UNC Philosophy.

Leading us to discuss this question:  are bargains coercive?  Do people actually buy things they don't want or need because it's a "good deal?"  I have heard people say things like, "Sure, I didn't have the money, but I at THAT price I couldn't afford NOT to buy it!"  Um...what?

UPDATE:  Senor Zorro notes that there is some documentation.  Here is a video of people fighting for phones at WalMart...

There are analogous actions in nature...


  1. Yes, they apparently are. Just have look at Black Friday.

    It is also a prove for Evolution.

    Señor Zorro

  2. I have no desire to go to attend a dinner with the characters on Jersey Shore, but if someone offered me the opportunity for $1 dollar I might feel compelled to take it if I were acting rationally because I could conceive of some future in which I might change my mind and want to attend such a dinner. Now "compelled" in this context obviously is used in a specialized sense, meaning something like, it is such a good deal that I should take it under any circumstances because it might someday be of value to me. Similarly, if I could buy the stock in every start up company for a penny, I would feel compelled to do so not because I thought such a company would succeed but because in the long run and on average I would be better off because some small number of these companies would succeed. I think the two cases are analogous and capture something about our thinking in these sorts of cases.


Do you have suggestions on where we could find more examples of this phenomenon?