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The Diversity of Rational Choice Theory: A Review Note


Herfeld, Catherine (2020). The Diversity of Rational Choice Theory: A Review Note. Topoi: An International Review of Philosophy, 39:329-347.

Abstract

In this paper, I review the literature on rational choice theory (RCT) to scrutinize a number of criticisms that philosophers have voiced against its usefulness in economics. The paper has three goals: first, I argue that the debates about RCT have been characterized by disunity and confusion about the object under scrutiny, which calls into question the effectiveness of those criticisms. Second, I argue that RCT is not a single and unified choice theory—let alone an empirical theory of human behavior—as some critics seem to suppose. Rather, there are several variants of RCT used in economics. Third, I propose that we think of RCT as a set of distinct research strategies to appreciate its diversity. This account implies that the effectiveness of any criticism depends on the variant of RCT we are considering.

Abstract

In this paper, I review the literature on rational choice theory (RCT) to scrutinize a number of criticisms that philosophers have voiced against its usefulness in economics. The paper has three goals: first, I argue that the debates about RCT have been characterized by disunity and confusion about the object under scrutiny, which calls into question the effectiveness of those criticisms. Second, I argue that RCT is not a single and unified choice theory—let alone an empirical theory of human behavior—as some critics seem to suppose. Rather, there are several variants of RCT used in economics. Third, I propose that we think of RCT as a set of distinct research strategies to appreciate its diversity. This account implies that the effectiveness of any criticism depends on the variant of RCT we are considering.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, further contribution
Communities & Collections:06 Faculty of Arts > Institute of Philosophy
06 Faculty of Arts > Institute of Sociology
Dewey Decimal Classification:100 Philosophy
Scopus Subject Areas:Social Sciences & Humanities > Philosophy
Uncontrolled Keywords:Received view of rational choice theory, Diversity of rational choice theory, History of rational choice theory, Criticism of rational choice theory, Rational choice theory in economics
Language:English
Date:April 2020
Deposited On:13 Aug 2019 08:43
Last Modified:07 Aug 2020 09:30
Publisher:Springer
ISSN:0167-7411
OA Status:Closed
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1007/s11245-018-9588-7

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