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Learning, Rationality and Identity Building

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  • David Cayla

    () (CES - Centre d'économie de la Sorbonne - CNRS - Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique - UP1 - Université Panthéon-Sorbonne, IMRI - Institut pour le Management de la Recherche et de l'Innovation - Université Paris-Dauphine)

Abstract

This paper focuses on the link between the economic conceptions of rationality and learning. Traditionally, most economists believe that learning is just a way for agents to become fully rational. But being fully rational cannot describe a process, for there is only one way to be rational in the economic sense of the term. Therefore, what economists have in mind is not the process of learning, but the result of learning: ‘a fully rational agent'. Heterodox rationality conceptions such as the Simonian model of bounded rationality seem more compatible with the idea of learning. Bounded rationality implies that agents may act differently to the same stimulus; it is therefore compatible with the idea of diversity, one of the foundations of the evolutionary logic. But following Simon, learning should not be considered as a creative process that allows a lot of diverse answers. If diversity exists in the agents' behaviors, the way they learn appears to be unique. As a consequence, learning should decrease the strength of the selection forces, both processes being contradictory (Dosi et al. 2003). Our paper aims to overcome this contradiction by showing how intentionality and identity, and more broadly Fransisco Varela's ‘enaction' theory, can help to invent a concept of ‘rational learning' that is compatible with the evolutionary logic.

Suggested Citation

  • David Cayla, 2008. "Learning, Rationality and Identity Building," Université Paris1 Panthéon-Sorbonne (Post-Print and Working Papers) halshs-00340832, HAL.
  • Handle: RePEc:hal:cesptp:halshs-00340832
    Note: View the original document on HAL open archive server: https://halshs.archives-ouvertes.fr/halshs-00340832v2
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    1. Giovanni Dosi & Luigi Marengo & Giorgio Fagiolo, 1996. "Learning in evolutionary environment," CEEL Working Papers 9605, Cognitive and Experimental Economics Laboratory, Department of Economics, University of Trento, Italia.
    2. Salmon, Mark, 2002. "Editor'S Introduction," Macroeconomic Dynamics, Cambridge University Press, vol. 6(01), pages 1-4, February.
    3. George A. Akerlof & Rachel E. Kranton, 2000. "Economics and Identity," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 115(3), pages 715-753.
    4. Richard Arena & Nathalie Lazaric, 2003. "La théorie évolutionniste du changement économique de Nelson et Winter. Une analyse économique réprospective," Revue économique, Presses de Sciences-Po, vol. 54(2), pages 329-354.
    5. Richard Langlois & Pierre Garrouste, 1997. "Cognition, Redundancy, And Learning In Organizations," Economics of Innovation and New Technology, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 4(4), pages 287-300.
    6. Pierre Garrouste, 1999. "Apprentissage, interactions, et création de connaissance," Revue d'Économie Industrielle, Programme National Persée, vol. 88(1), pages 137-151.
    7. Ludovic Dibiaggio, 1999. "Apprentissage, coordination et organisation de l'industrie - Une perspective cognitive," Revue d'Économie Industrielle, Programme National Persée, vol. 88(1), pages 111-136.
    8. Nicolai J. Foss, 2003. "Bounded rationality and tacit knowledge in the organizational capabilities approach: an assessment and a re-evaluation," Industrial and Corporate Change, Oxford University Press, vol. 12(2), pages 185-201, April.
    9. David Cayla, 2008. "Organizational Learning: A Process Between Equilibrium and Evolution," Université Paris1 Panthéon-Sorbonne (Post-Print and Working Papers) halshs-00267975, HAL.
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    Keywords

    learning; rationality; identity; cognitive sciences; enaction; evolutionary theory;

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