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From theories of human behavior to rules of rational choice


Herfeld, Catherine (2018). From theories of human behavior to rules of rational choice. History of Political Economy, 50(1):1-48.

Abstract

This article traces a normative turn between the middle of the 1940s and the early 1950s reflected in the reformulation, interpretation, and use of rational choice theories at the Cowles Commission for Research in Economics. This turn is paralleled by a transition from Jacob Marschak’s to Tjalling Koopmans’s research program. While rational choice theories initially raised high hopes that they would serve as empirical accounts to inform testable hypotheses about economic regularities, they became increasingly modified and interpreted as normative approaches offering behavioral recommendations for individual agents, organizations, government, and teams. The predefined elements constitutive of these accounts, inspired by simple rules of logic, were now meant to represent the basic demands of rationality and theories of rational decision making specified rules of conduct that were meant to shape rather than explain behavior.

Abstract

This article traces a normative turn between the middle of the 1940s and the early 1950s reflected in the reformulation, interpretation, and use of rational choice theories at the Cowles Commission for Research in Economics. This turn is paralleled by a transition from Jacob Marschak’s to Tjalling Koopmans’s research program. While rational choice theories initially raised high hopes that they would serve as empirical accounts to inform testable hypotheses about economic regularities, they became increasingly modified and interpreted as normative approaches offering behavioral recommendations for individual agents, organizations, government, and teams. The predefined elements constitutive of these accounts, inspired by simple rules of logic, were now meant to represent the basic demands of rationality and theories of rational decision making specified rules of conduct that were meant to shape rather than explain behavior.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, not_refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:06 Faculty of Arts > Institute of Philosophy
Dewey Decimal Classification:100 Philosophy
Language:English
Date:2018
Deposited On:15 May 2018 15:02
Last Modified:15 May 2018 15:25
Publisher:Duke University Press
ISSN:0018-2702
OA Status:Closed
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1215/00182702-4334997

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