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Between mathematical formalism, normative choice rules, and the behavioural sciences : The emergence of rational choice theories in the late 1940s and early 1950s


Herfeld, Catherine (2017). Between mathematical formalism, normative choice rules, and the behavioural sciences : The emergence of rational choice theories in the late 1940s and early 1950s. European Journal of History of Economic Thought, 24(6):1277-1317.

Abstract

This paper discusses why mathematical economists of the early Cold War period favored formal-axiomatic over behavioral choice theories. One reason was that formal-axiomatic theories allowed mathematical economists to improve the conceptual and theoretical foundations of economics and thereby to increase its scientific status. Furthermore, the separation between mathematical economics and other behavioral sciences was not as clear-cut as often argued. While economists did not modify their behavioral assumptions, some acknowledged the empirical shortcomings of their models. The paper reveals the multifaceted nature of rational choice theories reflected in the changing interpretations and roles of the theories in those early years.

Abstract

This paper discusses why mathematical economists of the early Cold War period favored formal-axiomatic over behavioral choice theories. One reason was that formal-axiomatic theories allowed mathematical economists to improve the conceptual and theoretical foundations of economics and thereby to increase its scientific status. Furthermore, the separation between mathematical economics and other behavioral sciences was not as clear-cut as often argued. While economists did not modify their behavioral assumptions, some acknowledged the empirical shortcomings of their models. The paper reveals the multifaceted nature of rational choice theories reflected in the changing interpretations and roles of the theories in those early years.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:06 Faculty of Arts > Institute of Philosophy
Dewey Decimal Classification:100 Philosophy
Uncontrolled Keywords:History of rational choice theories, Cowles Commission, behavioral sciences movement, history of economics and psychology
Language:English
Date:17 December 2017
Deposited On:19 Jan 2018 11:40
Last Modified:31 Mar 2018 05:04
Publisher:Taylor & Francis
ISSN:0967-2567
OA Status:Closed
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1080/09672567.2017.1385984
Official URL:http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/09672567.2017.1385984

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