IDEAS home Printed from
MyIDEAS: Log in (now much improved!) to save this paper

Axiomatic Choice Theory Traveling between Mathematical Formalism, Normative Choice Rules, and Psychological Measurement, 1944-1956

Listed author(s):
  • Catherine Herfeld
Registered author(s):

    The following analysis is meant to contribute to a history of rational choice theory. More specifically, I provide a multi-layered account of rational choice theory in terms of its biography as a scientific object. I argue that its axiomatic version, choice theory traveled between different research sites, specified within the context of different mathematical formalisms and occupying different epistemic functions; it was being applied to prescribe rules of proper behavior, as representation of behavioral hypotheses, and as measurement device to capture individual values. New modifications of what I call ‘axiomatic choice theory’ did not fully replace old versions of it, which prevents the reconstruction of its ‘travels’ as a continuous process and acknowledges the different versions of axiomatic choice theory that are currently used in the social sciences, particularly in economics. Furthermore, by revealing the diversity of its manifestations within the context of social networks and within particular research sites, the account of axiomatic choice theory developed here will ultimately contributes to an explanation of the disunity and confusion surrounding current debates about rational choice theory and allows for providing a more nuanced picture of its nature and scope. Jacob Marschak’s professional development is used as a guide through this history of axiomatic choice theory to illustrate its journey.

    If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.

    File URL:
    File Function: main text
    Download Restriction: no

    Paper provided by Center for the History of Political Economy in its series Center for the History of Political Economy Working Paper Series with number 2013-11 4Creation-Date: 2013.

    in new window

    Length: 67
    Date of creation:
    Handle: RePEc:hec:heccee:2013-11
    Contact details of provider: Postal:
    Center for the History of Political Economy Box 90097 Durham, NC 27708-0097

    Phone: (919) 660-6899
    Web page:

    No references listed on IDEAS
    You can help add them by filling out this form.

    This item is not listed on Wikipedia, on a reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.

    When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:hec:heccee:2013-11. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Center for the History of Political Economy Webmaster)

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

    If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    This information is provided to you by IDEAS at the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis using RePEc data.