Rule-governed behavior in evolution and human society
I present a conceptual framework and analytical tools for generalizing existing theory in order to investigate imperfect choice that does not always make optimal decisions based on available information. The resulting analysis implies imperfect choice creates incentives forrule-governed behavior that is adapted only to recurrent situations (rather than adjusting optimally to all conditions), thereby producing a tendency to ignore relevant and even costlessly available information. These principles are applied to recent analysis on the foundations ofconstitutional economics. They are also applied to nonhuman evolution, and to human behavior within exchange environments in order to illustrate the pervasiveness of rule governed behavior, and to suggest a constitutional perspective about the importance of developing rules for governing peoples' ongoing economic and political decisions. I conclude by briefly discussing a basic tradeoff between reaching initial agreement over constitutional rules and the stability of future compliance to them once they are put into practical application. Copyright George Mason University 1990
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