The limits of individualism are not the limits of rationality

Behavioral and Brain Sciences 26 (2):164-165 (2003)
Individualism fixes the unit of rational agency at the individual, creating problems exemplified in Hi-Lo and Prisoner's Dilemma (PD) games. But instrumental evaluation of consequences does not require a fixed individual unit. Units of agency can overlap, and the question of which unit should operate arises. Assuming a fixed individual unit is hard to justify: It is natural, and can be rational, to act as part of a group rather than as an individual. More attention should be paid to how units of agency are formed and selected: Are the local processes local or nonlocal? Do they presuppose the ability to understand other minds?
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DOI 10.1017/S0140525X03340051
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