External norms and rationality of choice

Economics and Philosophy 25 (2):139-152 (2009)
Abstract
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
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