Why are people interested in money? This question is too broad: there are many kinds of money, interest, and people. The biological approach of Lea & Webley (L&W) makes them seek the roots of this interest, and they contend that tool making and addiction qualify as the roots. Curiosity and the quest for power, however, qualify too. As L&W rightly admit, other approaches supplement their biological one. (Published Online April 5 2006).
Herbert Simon (1916–2001) was definitely 20th century’s most influential proponent of bounded rationality. His work was of a highly philosophical nature, but—as made clear time and again in this book—his ideas did not originate in philosophy at all. If the present collection of essays has any value to the philosophically oriented reader, it lies in the way it shows how a traditionally philosophical topic as human rationality and action cannot be claimed by philosophy alone. Even more, it shows that important (...) contributions to the issue were made in a highly applied context. Therefore, even if Models of a Man: Essays in Memory of Herbert Simon is all but a philosophy textbook (only one contribution is by a ‘professional philosopher’), it is of interest to anyone taking Simon’s influence in philosophy seriously. (shrink)
Gary Becker and others have done important work to broaden the content of self interest, but have not departed from seeing rationality in terms of the exclusive pursuit of self-interest. One reason why committed behavior is important is that a person can have good reason to pursue objectives other than self interest maximization (no matter how broadly it is construed). Indeed, one can also follow rules of behavior that go beyond the pursuit of one's own goals, even if the goals (...) include non-self-interested concerns. By living in a society, one develops possible reasons for considering other people's goals as well, which takes one beyond an exclusive concentration on one's own goals, not to mention the single-minded pursuit of one's own self interest. The recognition of other people's goals may be a part of rational thought. If rational behavior may depart from the relentless pursuit of one's own goals, commitment has to be important in a theory of rationality. Furthermore, seeing the role of commitment in human behavior can have explanatory importance in allowing us to understand behavior patterns that are hard to fit into the narrow format of contemporary rational choice theory. Commitment is, thus, important both for practical reason and for causal explanation. Footnotes1 Paper presented at a Workshop on Rationality and Commitment at the University of St. Gallen, May 13–15, 2004. (shrink)
This paper illustrates the interplay between theory development and data analysis by considering the ability of the rational expectations hypothesis to explain the empirical cointegration structure found in the term structure. It finds that although a standard no-arbitrage theory that incorporates rational expectations can explain some of the properties of Treasury Bill yields, this theoretical explanation is incomplete. A broader-based explanation that accounts for government debt and time-varying risk premia can improve predictions of yield movements, relative to those predictions based (...) solely on a bill yield spread. (shrink)
This paper argues that Isaac Levi's account of preference reversals is only a limited success. Levi succeeds in showing that an agent acting in accord with his theory may exhibit reversals. Nevertheless, the specific account that Levi presents in order to accommodate the behavior of experimental subjects appears to be disconfirmed by available evidence.
This paper argues that by focusing on simple problems that can be resolved by the use of simple economic logic, usually involving the assumption that agents are rational, the economics-as-fun literature inevitably distracts from more difficult problems that are harder to solve and which may need to be tackled in different ways and may create a bias towards solutions that rely on the market.
For a little more than twenty years, the terminology used in the economics of science has changed significantly with the development of expressions such as ?new economics of science? (NES) and ?economics of scientific knowledge? (ESK). This article seeks to shed light on the use of these different terminologies by studying the work of the economist of science Paul David. We aim to use his work as a case study in order to argue for a difference between NES and ESK (...) and to show, in a concrete way, the sociological ambiguities now going on in the economics of science. (shrink)
The classical theory of rational choice is built on several important internal consistency conditions. In recent years, the reasonableness of those internal consistency conditions has been questioned and criticized, and several responses to accommodate such criticisms have been proposed in the literature. This paper develops a general framework to accommodate the issues raised by the criticisms of classical rational choice theory, and examines the broad impact of these criticisms from both normative and positive points of view.
This article addresses several issues raised by Nichols, Gintis, and Skyrms and Zollman in their comments on my book, The Grammar of Society: The Nature and Dynamics of Social Norms . In particular, I explore the relation between social and personal norms, what an adequate game-theoretic representation of norms should be, and what models of norms emergence should tell us about the formation of normative expectations.
Previous literature has demonstrated the important role that trust plays in developing and maintaining well-functioning societies. However, if we are to learn how to increase levels of trust in society, we must first understand why people choose to trust others. One potential answer to this is that people view trust as normative: there is a social norm for trusting that imposes punishment for noncompliance. To test this, we report data from a survey with salient rewards to elicit people’s attitudes regarding (...) the punishment of distrusting behavior in a trust game. Our results show that people do not behave as though trust is a norm. Our participants expected that most people would not punish untrusting investors, regardless of whether the potential trustee was a stranger or a friend. In contrast, our participants behaved as though being trustworthy is a norm. Most participants believed that most people would punish someone who failed to reciprocate a stranger’s or a friend’s trust. We conclude that, while we were able to reproduce previous results establishing that there is a norm of reciprocity, we found no evidence for a corresponding norm of trust, even among friends. (shrink)
This paper uses the Centipede Game to criticize formal arguments that have recently been offered for and against backward induction as a rationality principle. It is argued that the crucial issues concerning the interpretation of counterfactuals depend on contextual questions that are abstracted away in current formalisms. I have a text, it always is the same, And always has been, Since I learnt the game. Chaucer, The Pardoner's Tale.
John Searle is well known for his contributions to the philosophy of language and to the philosophy of mind. In recent years he has extended his investigation to focus on the nature of social reality. In particular, he is intrigued by the creation of institutional facts, such as money, marriages and football matches. He postulates three primitive notions - 'collective intentionality', 'the assignment of function' and 'constitutive rules' - that are needed for the construction of institutional reality. The papers and (...) comments making up this symposium are, on the one hand, dealing with Searle's notion of the Background, and on the other hand they are concerned with the ways in which Searle's criticism of various computational theories of the mind may be seen to complement, and to bolster, Hayek's strictures on central economic planning. (shrink)
Ever since Sen criticized the notion of internal consistency of choice, there exists a widespread perception that the standard rationalizability approach to the theory of choice has difficulties in coping with the existence of external norms. We introduce a concept of norm-conditional rationalizability and show that external norms can be made compatible with the methods underlying the traditional rationalizability approach. To do so, we characterize norm-conditional rationalizability by means of suitable modifications of revealed preference axioms that are well established in (...) the theory of rational choice on general domains as analysed in contributions by Richter and Hansson, for example. We compare our approach to alternative suggestions that have appeared in response to Sen's criticisms, and we discuss its links to Sen's notion of self-imposed choice constraints. (shrink)
We consider a special set of risky prospects in which the outcomes are either life or death (or, more generally, binary utilities). There are various alternatives to the utilitarian objective of minimizing the expected loss of lives in such prospects. We start off with the two-person case with independent risks and construct taxonomies of ex ante and ex post evaluations for such prospects. We examine the relationship between the ex ante and the ex post in this restrictive framework: There are (...) more possibilities to respect ex ante and ex post objectives simultaneously than in the general framework, i.e. without the restriction to binary utilities (cf. Harsanyi's aggregation theorem). We extend our results to n persons and to dependent risks. We study optimal strategies for allocating risk reductions given different objectives. We place our results against the backdrop of various pro-poorly off (or prioritarian) value functions (Diamond 1967; Rabinowicz 2002; Fleurbaey 2010) for the evaluation of risky prospects. (shrink)
Following Amartya Sen’s insistence to expand the framework of rational choice theory by taking into account ‘non-utility information,’ economists, political scientists and philosophers have recently concentrated their efforts in analysing the issues related to rights, freedom, diversity intentions and equality. Thomas Boylan and Ruvin Gekker have gathered essays that reflect this trend. The particular themes addressed in this volume include: the measurement of diversity and freedom, formal analysis of individual rights and intentions, judgment aggregation under constraints and strategic manipulation in (...) fuzzy environments. Some papers in the volume also deal with philosophical aspects of normative social choice. (shrink)
The goal of neuroeconomics is a mathematical theory of how the brain implements decisions, that is tied to behaviour. This theory is likely to show some decisions for which rational-choice theory is a good approximation (particularly for evolutionarily sculpted or highly learned choices), to provide a deeper level of distinction among competing behavioural alternatives, and to provide empirical inspiration for economics to incorporate more nuanced ideas about endogeneity of preferences, individual difference, emotions, endogeneous regulation of states, and so forth. I (...) also address some concerns about rhetoric and practical epistemology. Neuroscience articles are necessarily speculative and the science has proceeded rapidly because of that rhetorical convention. Single-study papers are encouraged and are necessarily limited in what can be inferred, so the sturdiest cumulation of results, and the best guide forward, comes in review journals which compile results and suggest themes. The potential of neuroeconomics is in combining the clearest experimental paradigms and statistical methods in economics, with the unprecedented capacity to measure a range of neural and cognitive activity that economists like Edgeworth, Fisher and Ramsey daydreamed about but did not have. (shrink)
Focusing on the work of Friedrich von Hayek and Vernon Smith, we discuss some conceptual links between Austrian economics and recent work in behavioral game theory and experimental economics. After a brief survey of the main methodological aspects of Austrian and experimental economics, we suggest that common views on subjectivism, individualism, and the role of qualitative explanations and predictions in social science may favour a fruitful interaction between these two research programs.
A study encompassing a number of UK Universities identified a widespread implicit environmental determinism employed in the teaching of Economics to business studies undergraduates. In this paper the author argues that this bias is an inevitable by-product of the methodological individualism adopted within mainstream economics. The author concludes that methodological individualism is, therefore, flawed both as a mechanism for accessing the reality of the business world and the power of firms within it, and for teaching others about that reality, particularly (...) as it also acts to undermine student motivation. (shrink)
A syntactic formalism for the modeling of belief revision in perfect information games is presented that allows to define the rationality of a player's choice of moves relative to the beliefs he holds as his respective decision nodes have been reached. In this setting, true common belief in the structure of the game and rationality held before the start of the game does not imply that backward induction will be played. To derive backward induction, a “forward belief” condition is formulated (...) in terms of revised rather than initial beliefs. Alternative notions of rationality as well as the use of knowledge instead of belief are also studied within this framework. Footnotes1 I would like to thank Wlodek Rabinowicz and three anonymous referees for very helpful comments. (shrink)
Abstract Rosser's thoughtful and careful review of my book on business cycles reflects a different methodological stance than my own. I believe that economic theory and macroeconomics cannot escape using the concept of risk, even though, as Rosser points out, risk is not a simple unidimensional magnitude in many circumstances. I view the rational expectations assumption as a useful way of presenting a theory, rather than as a descriptive account of real?world expectations.
This paper distinguishes the base domain of an economic theory (in which predictions are relatively unambiguous) from, respectively, the domains of intended application and of legitimate testing; it argues that the domain of legitimate testing is not generally restricted to that of intended application; and discusses the obligations on researchers imposed by a position that presumes experimental environments in the base domain of a theory to provide legitimate test, unless there is compelling reason to expect behaviour in the domain of (...) intended application to conform more closely to the theory. Experimental tests of choice theory are discussed as an example. (shrink)
The discovered preference hypothesis appears to insulate expected utility theory (EU) from disconfirming experimental evidence. It asserts that individuals have coherent underlying preferences, which experiments may not reveal unless subjects have adequate opportunities and incentives to discover which actions best satisfy their preferences. We identify the confounding effects to be expected in experiments, were that hypothesis true, and consider how they might be controlled for. We argue for a design in which each subject faces just one distinct choice task for (...) real. We review the results of some tests of EU which have used this design. These tests reveal the same violations of the independence axiom as other studies have found. We conclude that the discovered preference hypothesis does not justify scepticism about the reality of these effects. (shrink)
This paper reviews three distinct strategies in recent economics for using the concept of social identity in the explanation of individual behavior: Akerlof and Kranton's neoclassical approach, Sen's commitment approach and Kirman et al.'s complexity approach. The primary focus is the multiple selves problem and the difficulties associated with failing to explain social identity and personal identity together. The argument of the paper is that too narrow a scope for reflexivity in individual decision?making renders the problem intractable, but that enlarging (...) this scope makes it possible to explain personal and social identity together in connection with an individual behavior termed comparative value?objective evaluation. The paper concludes with recommendations for treating the individual objective function as a production function. JEL classification: D01, D63, Z13. (shrink)
Reflexivity has been argued to be self?defeating and potentially devastating for the sociology of scientific knowledge. We first survey various meanings associated with the concept of reflexivity and then provide an interpretation of Velázquez's Las Meñinas to generate a three?part taxonomy of reflexivity, distinguishing between ?immanent?, ?epistemic? and ?transcendent? reflexivity. This provides the basis for engaging with reflexivity as a problem in the economic methodology literature, focusing on recent contributions to the topic by Hands, Sent, Mäki and Mirowski. Employment of (...) our taxonomy clarifies the similarities and differences between the various forms of reflexivity that can be identified or are addressed in these contributions. Our main argument is that a successful response to the malign aspects of reflexivity requires a simultaneous consideration of various levels of reflexivity and relies on social?historical perspectives. (shrink)
This paper examines a special kind of social preference, namely a preference to do one's part in a mixed-motive setting because the other party expects one to do so. I understand this expectation-based preference as a basic reactive attitude (Strawson 1974). Given this, and the fact that expectations in these circumstances are likely to be based on other people's preferences, I argue that in cooperation a special kind of equilibrium ensues, which I call a loop, with people's preferences and expectations (...) mutually cross-referring. As with a Lewis-norm, the loop can get started in a variety of ways. It is self-sustaining in the sense that people with social preferences have sufficient reason not to deviate. (shrink)
In this paper I propose that what social psychologists refer to as social identity is a plausible empirical correlate on the part of the individual to what some philosophers and economists call collective intention. A discussion of an experiment yields the question what kind of mental state social identity might be and how it is related to the standard desire/belief conception. It is argued that social identity involves both a desire and a belief, and that one distinguishing feature of it (...) is that it makes individual choice parametric. (shrink)
Economics is a typical resource for social epistemology and the division of labour is a common theme for economics. As such it should come as no surprise that the present paper turns to economics to formulate a view on the dynamics of scientific communities, with precursors such as Kitcher (1990), Goldman and Shaked (1991) and Hull (1988). But although the approach is similar to theirs, the view defended is different. Mäki (2005) points out that the lessons philosophers draw from economics (...) can go either way depending on the model chosen. Thus, the aims of this paper are (1) to illustrate this flexibility by proposing an alternative model which assumes increasing returns to adoption in science rather than the decreasing returns present in the aforementioned contributions; and (2) to outline the implications of this view for scientific pluralism and institutional design. (shrink)
In this paper I ponder upon the meaning of the perfect information assumption, and argue that a distinction should be drawn between the Walrasian and Marshallian conceptions of perfect information. I show that the Marshallian conception is more demanding than the Walrasian, due to the absence of the auctioneer figure. Next, I examine a few modern imperfect information models (Friedman's expectations?augmented Phillips Curve model, Lucas' neutrality of money model, Shapiro and Stiglitz' efficiency wage model) in order to assess whether the (...) perfect information conception they depart from is the Walrasian or the Marshallian. The finding is that the first and the third are Marshallian while the second is Walrasian. Finally, I reflect on how models of general equilibrium with imperfect competition fare with respect to the Marshall?Walras divide. (shrink)
The purpose of the paper is to explore the potential for using fuzzy logic to analyse economic decision?making under Keynesian uncertainty, and in particular in circumstances where variety of opinion is important. Fuzzy logic is shown to apply where expectations may differ because the nature of the subject matter impedes any ?crisp? way of describing the underlying variables. The particular case of the speculative demand for money is considered, since it explicitly reflects variety of opinion as to whether interest rates (...) are ?high? or ?low? (shrink)
The surprise exam paradox has attracted the attention of prominent logicians, mathematicians and philosophers for decades. Although the paradox itself has been resolved at least since Quine (1953), some aspects of it are still being discussed. In this paper we propose, following Sober (1998), to translate the paradox into the language of game theory to clarify these aspects. Our main conclusions are that a much simpler game?theoretic analysis of the paradox is possible, which solves most of the puzzles related (...) to it, and that this way of analysing the paradox can also throw light on our comprehension of the pragmatics of linguistic communication. (shrink)
In 1940 Schumpeter wrote a paper entitled: ?The Meaning of Rationality in the Social Sciences?, which was intended as a contribution to one of the meetings of a seminar including Talcott Parsons, Wassily Leontief, Paul Sweezy and other Harvard scholars, that he initiated. In this paper Schumpeter develops thoroughly his own conception of rationality in economics. First, this paper is interesting in itself because it relates to contemporary methodological debates on rationality in the social sciences. Second Schumpeter?s conception of rationality (...) is linked to his methodological background (both individualistic and holistic), which is rooted in his economic sociology and explains the relationships he stresses between individual behavior and collective entities. In this contribution we present the arguments developed by Schumpeter in his 1940 paper and analyze the reason why his notion of rationality can be seen as a key component of his conception of economic and institutional change. (shrink)