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Rationality and Rules: Behavioral Foundations and Policy Implications


  • Viktor J. Vanberg

    () (Walter Eucken Institut, Freiburg, Germany)


Rational choice theory, as the paradigmatic core of economics, comprises two kinds of assumptions, the motivational assumption that individuals act self-interestedly and the cognitive assumption that in pursuit of their self-interest they act rationally. The self-interest assumption has often been the target of criticism, more recently from behavioral and experimental economists. The present paper focuses its critique on the cognitive component of rational choice theory. Its main purpose is to contrast the standard assumption of rational choice with a theoretical outlook that emphasizes the role of rules, both in individual conduct and in politics, as a device for coping with man’s cognitive limitations.

Suggested Citation

  • Viktor J. Vanberg, 2016. "Rationality and Rules: Behavioral Foundations and Policy Implications," History of Economic Ideas, Fabrizio Serra Editore, Pisa - Roma, vol. 24(3), pages 95-113.
  • Handle: RePEc:hid:journl:v:24:y:2016:3:5:p:95-113

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