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Why rationality is not a consequence of Hume's theory of choice

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  • Robert Sugden

Abstract

This paper argues that the theory of action proposed by Hume in the Treatise does not imply that individuals are rational in the sense of modern choice theory. An individual's behaviour is non-rational if his/her choices systematically contravene the consistency axioms of the theory, and if the causal explanation of those choices cannot credibly be offered as a reason for making them. Hume proposes a theory of causal relationships between mental states, based on associations of ideas. The relationships he postulates are liable to induce various forms of non-rational behaviour, some of which have since been observed in controlled experiments.

Suggested Citation

  • Robert Sugden, 2005. "Why rationality is not a consequence of Hume's theory of choice," The European Journal of the History of Economic Thought, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 12(1), pages 113-118.
  • Handle: RePEc:taf:eujhet:v:12:y:2005:i:1:p:113-118
    DOI: 10.1080/0967256042000338069
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Shane Frederick & George Loewenstein & Ted O'Donoghue, 2002. "Time Discounting and Time Preference: A Critical Review," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 40(2), pages 351-401, June.
    2. Huber, Joel & Payne, John W & Puto, Christopher, 1982. " Adding Asymmetrically Dominated Alternatives: Violations of Regularity and the Similarity Hypothesis," Journal of Consumer Research, Oxford University Press, vol. 9(1), pages 90-98, June.
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    Cited by:

    1. Franz Dietrich & Christian List, 2013. "Where do preferences come from?," International Journal of Game Theory, Springer;Game Theory Society, vol. 42(3), pages 613-637, August.
    2. Leonardo Becchetti & Elena Giachin Ricca & Alessandra Pelloni, 2009. "The 60es turnaround as a test on the causal relationship between sociability and happiness," Econometica Working Papers wp07, Econometica.
    3. Andre Lapidus, 2010. "The valuation of decision and individual welfare: a Humean approach," The European Journal of the History of Economic Thought, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 17(1), pages 1-28.
    4. repec:eee:jeborg:v:143:y:2017:i:c:p:223-240 is not listed on IDEAS

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Hume; choice theory; rationality;

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