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Rationality of Belief. Or: Why Bayesianism is Neither Necessary nor Sufficient for Rationality

Author

Listed:
  • Itzhak Gilboa

    (School of Economics, Tel Aviv University)

  • Andrew Postlewaite

    (Economics, University of Pennsylvania)

  • David Schmeidler

    (School of Mathematical Sciences, Tel Aviv Univ.)

Abstract

Economic theory reduces the concept of rationality to internal consistency. The practice of economics, however, distinguishes between rational and irrational beliefs. There is therefore an interest in a theory of rational beliefs, and of the process by which beliefs are generated and justified. We argue that the Bayesian approach is unsatisfactory for this purpose, for several reasons. First, the Bayesian approach begins with a prior, and models only a very limited form of learning, namely, Bayesian updating. Thus, it is inherently incapable of describing the formation of prior beliefs. Second, there are many situations in which there is not sufficient information for an individual to generate a Bayesian prior. Third, this lack of information is even more acute when we address the beliefs that can be attributed to a society. We hold that one needs to explore other approaches to the representation of information and of beliefs, which may be helpful in describing the formation of Bayesian as well as non-Bayesian beliefs.

Suggested Citation

  • Itzhak Gilboa & Andrew Postlewaite & David Schmeidler, 2004. "Rationality of Belief. Or: Why Bayesianism is Neither Necessary nor Sufficient for Rationality," Cowles Foundation Discussion Papers 1484, Cowles Foundation for Research in Economics, Yale University.
  • Handle: RePEc:cwl:cwldpp:1484
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    File URL: http://cowles.yale.edu/sites/default/files/files/pub/d14/d1484.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Itzhak Gilboa & David Schmeidler, 2003. "Inductive Inference: An Axiomatic Approach," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 71(1), pages 1-26, January.
    2. Lawrence Blume & Adam Brandenburger & Eddie Dekel, 2014. "Lexicographic Probabilities and Choice Under Uncertainty," World Scientific Book Chapters,in: The Language of Game Theory Putting Epistemics into the Mathematics of Games, chapter 6, pages 137-160 World Scientific Publishing Co. Pte. Ltd..
    3. In-Koo Cho & David M. Kreps, 1987. "Signaling Games and Stable Equilibria," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 102(2), pages 179-221.
    4. Gilboa, Itzhak & Schmeidler, David, 1989. "Maxmin expected utility with non-unique prior," Journal of Mathematical Economics, Elsevier, vol. 18(2), pages 141-153, April.
    5. Enriqueta Aragones & Itzhak Gilboa & Andrew Postlewaite & David Schmeidler, 2005. "Fact-Free Learning," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 95(5), pages 1355-1368, December.
    6. Kahneman, Daniel & Tversky, Amos, 1979. "Prospect Theory: An Analysis of Decision under Risk," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 47(2), pages 263-291, March.
    7. Schmeidler, David, 1989. "Subjective Probability and Expected Utility without Additivity," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 57(3), pages 571-587, May.
    8. Machina, Mark J & Schmeidler, David, 1992. "A More Robust Definition of Subjective Probability," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 60(4), pages 745-780, July.
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    Cited by:

    1. Tigran Melkonyan & Mark Pingle, 2010. "Ambiguity, pessimism, and rational religious choice," Theory and Decision, Springer, vol. 69(3), pages 417-438, September.
    2. Luigi Guiso & Paola Sapienza & Luigi Zingales, 2009. "Cultural Biases in Economic Exchange?," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 124(3), pages 1095-1131.
    3. Scott Condie & Jayant V. Ganguli, 2011. "Ambiguity and Rational Expectations Equilibria," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 78(3), pages 821-845.
    4. Pe[combining cedilla]ski, Marcin, 2011. "Prior symmetry, similarity-based reasoning, and endogenous categorization," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 146(1), pages 111-140, January.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Bayesianism; rationality; savage axioms;

    JEL classification:

    • B4 - Schools of Economic Thought and Methodology - - Economic Methodology
    • D8 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty

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