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Rationality and Commitment


  • Peter, Fabienne
    (University of Warwick)

  • Schmid, Hans Bernhard
    (University of Basel)


Rational choice theory forms the core of the economic approach to human behaviour. It is also the most influential philosophical account of practical rationality. Yet there are persistent controversies about the scope of rational choice theory in philosophy and, increasingly, in economics as well. A leading critic is the philosopher and Nobel Laureate economist Amartya Sen, who put forward a trenchant critique of rational choice theory in his seminal paper 'Rational Fools'. Sen emphasizes the importance of commitment - those aspects of human behavior which dispose individuals to co-operate, follow norms, and identify with others. He argues that rational choice theory cannot accommodate commitment, and demands a more adequate account of rationality. The question of how to account for the rationality of commitment is very much an open issue and, if anything, even more pressing today than when Sen first raised it. In Rationality and Commitment, thirteen leading philosophers and economists discuss Sen's claims and propose their own answers to the question of how to account for the rationality of committed action. The volume concludes with a specially-written reply by Sen, in which he responds to his critics and provides a rich commentary on the preceding essays. Contributors to this volume - Geoffrey Brennan, Australian National University, Canberra and University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill John Bryan Davis, University of Amsterdam and Marquette University Simon Gachter, University of Nottingham Margaret Gilbert, University of California, Irvine Natalie Gold, University of Edinburgh Werner Guth, Max Planck Institute of Economics, Jena Daniel M. Hausman, University of Wisconsin-Madison Hartmut Kliemt, Universitat Duisburg-Essen Herlinde Pauer-Studer, University of Vienna Fabienne Peter, University of Warwick Philip Pettit, Princeton University Hans Bernhard Schmid, University of Basel and University of St. Gallen Amartya Sen, Harvard University and University of Cambridge Robert Sugden, University of East Anglia Christian Thoni, University of St. Gallen Raimo Tuomela, University of Helsinki Bruno Verbeek, Leiden University

Suggested Citation

  • Peter, Fabienne & Schmid, Hans Bernhard (ed.), 2007. "Rationality and Commitment," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780199287260.
  • Handle: RePEc:oxp:obooks:9780199287260

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