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Rationality and its bounds: Re-framing social framing


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  • Matthias Klaes

    (Centre for Economic Research, Keele University, England)


The concept of bounded rationality has been at the forefront of a recent empiricist program in economics which under the heading of ‘behavioral economics ‘ seeks to broaden the rational choice paradigm in the direction of psychology, to the neglect of a similar broadening in the direction of sociology. While a small but increasing number of studies consider the influence of social framing on economic decision making, these studies proceed on an impoverished understanding of the social, treating social framing as inessential in a sense clarified in this chapter, which argues for an essential notion of social framing effects. Starting point is Pareto’s distinction between logical and non-logical action, and an exploration of how the concept of bounded rationality has been employed to broaden the logical action paradigm in economics towards its counterpart of non-logical action. The puzzle of successfully performed transactions in anonymous non-repetitive encounters serves as illustrative context and builds up to the overarching argument that in conceptual terms, social framing needs to be understood in the more general context of human intentionality, where rational behavior can be addressed as a particular kind of intentional response to environmental factors. The paper pursues this argument in the context of social framing by drawing from Pettit’s (1993) dual distinction between atomism ver-sus holism on the one hand, and individualism versus collectivism on the other hand, to introduce a the distinction between essential as opposed to inessential social framing effects. It concludes that departures from psychologistic notions of bounded rationality require a theory of essential social framing, in the sense that the social frames intentional behavior in a constitutive way.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by SCEME in its series SCEME Working Papers: Advances in Economic Methodology with number 012/2006.

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Length: 13 pages
Date of creation: Jul 2006
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:sti:wpaper:012/2006

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Keywords: bounded-rationality; social-framing;

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Cited by:
  1. Dorian Jullien, 2013. "Intentional Apple-choice Behaviors: When Amartya Sen Meets John Searle," GREDEG Working Papers 2013-46, Groupe de REcherche en Droit, Économie, Gestion (GREDEG CNRS), University of Nice Sophia Antipolis.
  2. Dorian Jullien, 2013. "Asian Disease-type of Framing of Outcomes as an Historical Curiosity," GREDEG Working Papers 2013-47, Groupe de REcherche en Droit, Économie, Gestion (GREDEG CNRS), University of Nice Sophia Antipolis.


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