Unrealistic assumptions in rational choice theory

Philosophy of the Social Sciences 37 (2):115-138 (2007)
The most common argument against the use of rational choice models outside economics is that they make unrealistic assumptions about individual behavior. We argue that whether the falsity of assumptions matters in a given model depends on which factors are explanatorily relevant. Since the explanatory factors may vary from application to application, effective criticism of economic model building should be based on model-specific arguments showing how the result really depends on the false assumptions. However, some modeling results in imperialistic applications are relatively robust with respect to unrealistic assumptions. Key Words: unrealistic assumptions • economics imperialism • rational choice • as if • robustness.
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DOI 10.1177/0048393107299684
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J. Kuorikoski, A. Lehtinen & C. Marchionni (2010). Economic Modelling as Robustness Analysis. British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 61 (3):541-567.

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