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The superfluous postulate of human rationality

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  • Etienne Mullet

    () (E´cole Pratique des Hautes Etudes, Paris, France)

Abstract

If human beings were empirically shown to be irrational, would this finding destroy the foundations of economic science? We think not because we doubt that this postulate is needed as a foundation of economic science. We examine the laboratory experiments conducted by behavioral economists and experimental psychologists on human judgment and decision-making, using Bayes’ Theorem and the Expected Value model. We examine a number of issues: Can we base ourselves on experimenters’ full rationality for doubting of human rationality? Are rational models anything else than handy tools? Do humans’ minds function like rational tools or with rational tools? How an ‘‘irrational’’ human being could create anything ‘‘rational’’? Should rationality be subordinated to reason? Nature being neither rational nor irrational, is there any point in applying the concept of rationality to one its constituents? If human beings were rational forms of life, would this specie have survived?

Suggested Citation

  • Etienne Mullet, 2012. "The superfluous postulate of human rationality," Rivista Internazionale di Scienze Sociali, Vita e Pensiero, Pubblicazioni dell'Universita' Cattolica del Sacro Cuore, vol. 120(3), pages 269-288.
  • Handle: RePEc:vep:journl:y:2012:v:120:i:3:p:269-288
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    Keywords

    Rationalty; Economic science; Decision-making; Human judgment;

    JEL classification:

    • A12 - General Economics and Teaching - - General Economics - - - Relation of Economics to Other Disciplines
    • C90 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - General
    • D03 - Microeconomics - - General - - - Behavioral Microeconomics: Underlying Principles

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