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Does optimization imply rationality ?

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  • P. Mongin

Abstract

The relations between rationality and optimization have been widely discussed in the wake of Herbert Simon's work, with the common conclusion that the rationality concept does not imply the optimization principle. The paper is partly concerned with adding evidence for this view, but its main, more challenging objective is to question the converse implication from optimization to rationality, which is accepted even by bounded rationality theorists. We discuss three topics in succession: (1) rationally defensible cyclical choices, (2) therevealed preference theory of optimization, and (3) the infinite regress of optimization. We conclude that (1) and (2) provide evidence only for the weak thesis that rationality does not imply optimization. But (3) is seen to deliver a significant argument for the strong thesis that optimization does not imply rationality.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by THEMA (THéorie Economique, Modélisation et Applications), Université de Cergy-Pontoise in its series THEMA Working Papers with number 98-17.

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Date of creation: 1998
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Handle: RePEc:ema:worpap:98-17

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References

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  1. LISMONT, Luc & MONGIN, Philippe, 1994. "On the Logic of Common Belief and Common Knowledge," CORE Discussion Papers 1994005, Université catholique de Louvain, Center for Operations Research and Econometrics (CORE).
  2. Philippe Mongin, 1984. "Modèle rationnel ou modèle économique de la rationalité ?," Revue Économique, Programme National Persée, vol. 35(1), pages 9-64.
  3. Fishburn, Peter C, 1991. " Nontransitive Preferences in Decision Theory," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 4(2), pages 113-34, April.
  4. Plott, Charles R, 1973. "Path Independence, Rationality, and Social Choice," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 41(6), pages 1075-91, November.
  5. Campbell, Donald E, 1978. "Realization of Choice Functions," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 46(1), pages 171-80, January.
  6. Sen, Amartya K, 1973. "Behaviour and the Concept of Preference," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 40(159), pages 241-59, August.
  7. D. B. Bernheim, 2010. "Rationalizable Strategic Behavior," Levine's Working Paper Archive 661465000000000381, David K. Levine.
  8. Conlisk, John, 1988. "Optimization cost," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 9(3), pages 213-228, April.
  9. Lipman, Barton L, 1991. "How to Decide How to Decide How to. . . : Modeling Limited Rationality," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 59(4), pages 1105-25, July.
  10. Sen, Amartya K, 1971. "Choice Functions and Revealed Preference," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 38(115), pages 307-17, July.
  11. Frédéric Laville, 1998. "Modélisations de la rationalité limitée : de quels outils dispose-t-on ?," Revue Économique, Programme National Persée, vol. 49(2), pages 335-365.
  12. Frédéric Laville, 1998. "Modélisations de la rationalité limitée : de quels outils dispose-t-on ?," Revue économique, Presses de Sciences-Po, vol. 0(2), pages 335-365.
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Cited by:
  1. Marc Fleurbaey & Philippe Mongin, 2004. "The News of the Death of Welfare Economics is Greatly Exaggerated," Working Papers hal-00242931, HAL.
  2. Philippe Mongin, 2005. "L'apriori et l'a posteriori en économie," Working Papers hal-00243013, HAL.
  3. Paola Manzini & Marco Mariotti, 2003. "How vague can one be? Rational preferences without completeness or transitivity," Game Theory and Information 0312006, EconWPA, revised 16 Jul 2004.

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