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The rationality postulate in economics: its ambiguity, its deficiency and its evolutionary alternative

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  • Viktor Vanberg
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    Abstract

    Though the rationality postulate is generally considered the paradigmatic core of economics, there is little agreement about its specific content and methodological status. This paper seeks to clarify some of the ambiguity surrounding the postulate by drawing a distinction between the non-refutable, purely heuristic rationality principle and refutable rationality hypotheses. An alternative, evolutionary outlook at purposeful human behavior is outlined that captures much of what makes the rationality postulate attractive to economists but avoids the ambiguities that have made it the subject of enduring controversy.

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    Bibliographic Info

    Article provided by Taylor & Francis Journals in its journal Journal of Economic Methodology.

    Volume (Year): 11 (2004)
    Issue (Month): 1 ()
    Pages: 1-29

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    Handle: RePEc:taf:jecmet:v:11:y:2004:i:1:p:1-29

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    Related research

    Keywords: Rational choice theory; rationality principle; rule-following; program-based behavior; adaptive agents;

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    Cited by:
    1. Gebhard Kirchgässner, 2004. "The Weak Rationality Principle in Economics," University of St. Gallen Department of Economics working paper series 2004 2004-13, Department of Economics, University of St. Gallen.
    2. Katalin Martinas & Agoston Reguly, 2013. "Reappraisal of Rational Choice Theory," Interdisciplinary Description of Complex Systems - scientific journal, Croatian Interdisciplinary Society Provider Homepage: http://indecs.eu, vol. 11(1), pages 14-28.
    3. Viktor J. Vanberg, 2007. "Rationality, Rule-Following and Emotions: On the Economics of Moral Preferences," Papers on Economics and Evolution 2006-21, Max Planck Institute of Economics, Evolutionary Economics Group.
    4. Pelikan, Pavel, 2007. "Public Choice with Unequally Rational Individuals," Freiburg Discussion Papers on Constitutional Economics 07/2, Walter Eucken Institut e.V..
    5. Hans Albert, 2006. "Die ökonomische Tradition und die Verfassung der Wissenschaft," Perspektiven der Wirtschaftspolitik, Verein für Socialpolitik, vol. 7(s1), pages 113-131, 05.
    6. Vanberg, Viktor J., 2007. "Rational choice, preferences over actions and rule-following behavior," Freiburg Discussion Papers on Constitutional Economics 07/6, Walter Eucken Institut e.V..
    7. V. J. Vanberg, 2004. "Human Intentionality and Design In Cultural Evolution," Papers on Economics and Evolution 2004-02, Max Planck Institute of Economics, Evolutionary Economics Group.
    8. Markus Pasche, 2008. "Zum Erklärungsgehalt der verhaltensorientierten Spieltheorie," Jena Research Papers in Business and Economics - Working and Discussion Papers 04/2008, Friedrich-Schiller-University Jena, School of Economics and Business Administration.
    9. Pelikan, Pavel, 2006. "Markets vs. Government when Rationality Is Unequally Bounded: Some Consequences of Cognitive Inequalities for Theory and Policy," Ratio Working Papers 85, The Ratio Institute, revised 03 Sep 2006.

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