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Coping Rationally with Lapses from Rationality

  • Thomas C. Schelling

    (University of Maryland)

People have difficulty governing certain of their own behaviors, and employ strategies to constrain future choices. These efforts can be interpreted as rational attempts to cope with some foreseeable lapse from full rationality. The philosophy literature and a small amount of recent economics literature concentrate on temptations - addictions, eating problems, sexual incontinence. Just what occurs during a "lapse" is often hard to describe, and whether succumbing should be considered rational or not is in dispute. Here, a number of conditions and behaviors are introduced for which a judgment about "irrationality" will be less problematic. They are important in their own right, and also help to enlarge the class in which the more notorious addictive and compulsive behaviors can be fitted. The latter may then be seen as members of a family not all of whose members are so perplexing.

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File URL: http://college.holycross.edu/RePEc/eej/Archive/Volume22/V22N3P251_269.pdf
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Article provided by Eastern Economic Association in its journal Eastern Economic Journal.

Volume (Year): 22 (1996)
Issue (Month): 3 (Summer)
Pages: 251-269

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Handle: RePEc:eej:eeconj:v:22:y:1996:i:3:p:251-269
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