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A reason-based theory of rational choice

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  • Franz Dietrich
  • Christian List

Abstract

There is a surprising disconnect between formal rational choice theory and philosophical work on reasons. The one is silent on the role of reasons in rational choices, the other rarely engages with the formal models of decision problems used by social scientists. To bridge this gap, we propose a new, reason-based theory of rational choice. At its core is an account of preference formation, according to which an agent's preferences are determined by his or her motivating reasons, together with a weighing relation between di¤erent combinations of reasons. By explaining how someone's preferences may vary with changes in his or her motivating reasons, our theory illuminates the relationship between deliberation about reasons and rational choices. Although primarily positive, the theory can also help us think about how those preferences and choices ought to respond to normative reasons.
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Suggested Citation

  • Franz Dietrich & Christian List, 2010. "A reason-based theory of rational choice," Levine's Working Paper Archive 661465000000000046, David K. Levine.
  • Handle: RePEc:cla:levarc:661465000000000046
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    File URL: http://www.dklevine.com/archive/refs4661465000000000046.pdf
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    Cited by:

    1. Dietrich, Franz & List, Christian, 2016. "Reason-Based Choice And Context-Dependence: An Explanatory Framework," Economics and Philosophy, Cambridge University Press, vol. 32(02), pages 175-229, July.
    2. repec:hal:wpaper:halshs-01249632 is not listed on IDEAS
    3. 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.
    4. Dietrich, Franz & List, Christian, 2016. "Reason-Based Choice And Context-Dependence: An Explanatory Framework," Economics and Philosophy, Cambridge University Press, vol. 32(02), pages 175-229, July.
    5. repec:hal:journl:halshs-01249514 is not listed on IDEAS
    6. Dietrich, Franz & List, Christian, 2016. "Mentalism Versus Behaviourism In Economics: A Philosophy-Of-Science Perspective," Economics and Philosophy, Cambridge University Press, vol. 32(02), pages 249-281, July.
    7. Dorian Jullien, 2016. "All Frames Created Equal are Not Identical: On the Structure of Kahneman and Tversky's Framing Effects," GREDEG Working Papers 2016-17, Groupe de REcherche en Droit, Economie, Gestion (GREDEG CNRS), University of Nice Sophia Antipolis.
    8. Dietrich, Franz & List, Christian, 2016. "Mentalism Versus Behaviourism In Economics: A Philosophy-Of-Science Perspective," Economics and Philosophy, Cambridge University Press, vol. 32(02), pages 249-281, July.
    9. repec:spr:infosf:v:17:y:2015:i:4:d:10.1007_s10796-014-9520-7 is not listed on IDEAS
    10. Dietrich, Franz & List, Christian, 2016. "What matters and how it matters: A choice-theoretic representation of moral theories," MPRA Paper 71305, University Library of Munich, Germany.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • D03 - Microeconomics - - General - - - Behavioral Microeconomics: Underlying Principles
    • D0 - Microeconomics - - General
    • C0 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - General
    • C7 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Game Theory and Bargaining Theory
    • D8 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty
    • D01 - Microeconomics - - General - - - Microeconomic Behavior: Underlying Principles

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