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Preference purification and the inner rational agent: a critique of the conventional wisdom of behavioural welfare economics

Listed author(s):
  • Gerardo Infante

    (UEA - University of East Anglia (Norwich))

  • Guilhem Lecouteux

    (Department of Economics, Ecole Polytechnique - Polytechnique - X - CNRS - Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique)

  • Robert Sugden

    (UEA - University of East Anglia (Norwich))

Neoclassical economics assumes that individuals have stable and context-independent preferences, and uses preference satisfaction as a normative criterion. By calling this assumption into question, behavioural findings cause fundamental problems for normative economics. A common response to these problems is to treat deviations from conventional rational choice theory as mistakes, and to try to reconstruct the preferences that individuals would have acted on, had they reasoned correctly. We argue that this preference purification approach implicitly uses a dualistic model of the human being, in which an inner rational agent is trapped in an outer psychological shell. This model is psychologically and philosophically problematic.

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File URL: https://halshs.archives-ouvertes.fr/halshs-01427046/document
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Paper provided by HAL in its series Post-Print with number halshs-01427046.

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Date of creation: 2016
Publication status: Published in Journal of Economic Methodology, Taylor & Francis (Routledge), 2016, 23 (1), pp.1-25. <10.1080/1350178X.2015.1070527>
Handle: RePEc:hal:journl:halshs-01427046
DOI: 10.1080/1350178X.2015.1070527
Note: View the original document on HAL open archive server: https://halshs.archives-ouvertes.fr/halshs-01427046
Contact details of provider: Web page: https://hal.archives-ouvertes.fr/

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