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Rule-governed behavior in evolution and human society

  • Ronald Heiner
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    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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    File URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10.1007/BF02393032
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    Article provided by Springer in its journal Constitutional Political Economy.

    Volume (Year): 1 (1990)
    Issue (Month): 1 (December)
    Pages: 19-46

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    Handle: RePEc:kap:copoec:v:1:y:1990:i:1:p:19-46
    Contact details of provider: Web page: http://www.springerlink.com/link.asp?id=102866

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    1. Heiner, Ronald A., 1988. "The necessity of imperfect decisions," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 10(1), pages 29-55, July.
    2. Levy, David, 1988. "Utility-Enhancing Consumption Constraints," Economics and Philosophy, Cambridge University Press, vol. 4(01), pages 69-88, April.
    3. Kahneman, Daniel & Knetsch, Jack L & Thaler, Richard, 1986. "Fairness as a Constraint on Profit Seeking: Entitlements in the Market," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 76(4), pages 728-41, September.
    4. Williams, Arlington W, 1987. "The Formation of Price Forecasts in Experimental Markets," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 19(1), pages 1-18, February.
    5. Arrow, Kenneth J, 1986. "Rationality of Self and Others in an Economic System," The Journal of Business, University of Chicago Press, vol. 59(4), pages S385-99, October.
    6. Heiner, Ronald A, 1985. "Origin of Predictable Behavior: Further Modeling and Applications," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 75(2), pages 391-96, May.
    7. Kaen, Fred R & Rosenman, Robert E, 1986. "Predictable Behavior in Financial Markets: Some Evidence in Support ofHeiner's Hypothesis," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 76(1), pages 212-20, March.
    8. Tversky, Amos & Kahneman, Daniel, 1986. "Rational Choice and the Framing of Decisions," The Journal of Business, University of Chicago Press, vol. 59(4), pages S251-78, October.
    9. Slovic, Paul & Lichtenstein, Sarah, 1983. "Preference Reversals: A Broader Perspective," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 73(4), pages 596-605, September.
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