The Bounded Rationality Theory, the Rational Choice Theory or the Methodological Individualism

Journal des Economistes Et des Etudes Humaines 14 (1) (2004)
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Abstract

The bounded rationality theory has been perceived by social scientists as a more flexible version of the rational choice theory, also called expected utility theory. The former has the avantage of taking into consideration the fact that information is generally costly. It corrects the RCT on an important point. For the social sciences, the RCT is very useful, but far from representing a general theory which could explain the various kinds of behaviour the social sciences are confronted to, even in its more flexible BRT version. The article makes the postulates underlying the RCT and the BRT explicit and shows that, when some of the postulates are eliminated, a genuinely general model is obtained: the model which is actually used in convincing sociological analyses.La Théorie de la rationalité limitée a été perçue par les sciences sociales comme une version assouplie de la théorie du choix rationnel, aussi appelée Modèle de l’utilité espérée. La TRL a l’avantage de tenir compte notamment du fait que l’information est généralement coûteuse, corrigeant ainsi l’irréalisme de la TCR sur un point essentiel. Du point de vue des sciences sociales, la TCR est fort utile, mais elle est loin de proposer une théorie générale de la rationalité permettant de rendre compte des divers types de comportement dont les sciences sociales ont à connaître, même dans sa version assouplie de la TRL. On identifie ici les postulats de la TCR et de la TRL et l’on montre qu’en abandonnant certains de ces postulats, l’on définit un modèle, le MRG qui, lui, peut prétendre à la généralité. C’est celui qui est utilisé naturellement par les analyses sociologiques qui ses sont imposées.

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