Decision Theory and Rationality

OUP Oxford (2011)
Abstract
The concept of rationality is a common thread through the human and social sciences -- from political science to philosophy, from economics to sociology, and from management science to decision analysis. But what counts as rational action and rational behavior? José Luis Bermúdez explores decision theory as a theory of rationality. Decision theory is the mathematical theory of choice and for many social scientists it makes the concept of rationality mathematically tractable and scientifically legitimate. Yet rationality is a concept with several dimensions and the theory of rationality has different roles to play. It plays an action-guiding role (prescribing what counts as a rational solution of a given decision problem). It plays a normative role (giving us the tools to pass judgment not just on how a decision problem was solved, but also on how it was set up in the first place). And it plays a predictive/explanatory role (telling us how rational agents will behave, or why they did what they did). This controversial but accessible book shows that decision theory cannot play all of these roles simultaneously. And yet, it argues, no theory of rationality can play one role without playing the other two. The conclusion is that there is no hope of taking decision theory as a theory of rationality.
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Citations of this work BETA
Santiago Amaya (2013). Slips. Noûs 47 (3):559-576.
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Lara Buchak (forthcoming). Decision Theory. In Christopher Hitchcock & Alan Hajek (eds.), Oxford Handbook of Probability and Philosophy. Oxford University Press.
J. David Velleman (1993). The Story of Rational Action. Philosophical Topics 21 (1):229-254.
Reed Richter (1984). Rationality Revisited. Australasian Journal of Philosophy 62 (4):392 – 403.
Martin V. Curd (1982). The Rationality of the Copernican Revolution. PSA: Proceedings of the Biennial Meeting of the Philosophy of Science Association 1982:3 - 13.
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