Does optimization imply rationality?

Synthese 124 (1-2):73 - 111 (2000)

Authors
Philippe Mongin
Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique
Abstract
The relations between rationality and optimization have been widely discussed in the wake of Herbert Simon's work, with the common conclusion that the rationality concept does not imply the optimization principle. The paper is partly concerned with adding evidence for this view, but its main, more challenging objective is to question the converse implication from optimization to rationality, which is accepted even by bounded rationality theorists. We discuss three topics in succession: (1) rationally defensible cyclical choices, (2) the revealed preference theory of optimization, and (3) the infinite regress of optimization. We conclude that (1) and (2) provide evidence only for the weak thesis that rationality does not imply optimization. But (3) is seen to deliver a significant argument for the strong thesis that optimization does not imply rationality.
Keywords Optimization  Rationality  Cycles of preferences  Choice functions  Infinite regress of optimization  Bounded rationality
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Reprint years 2004
DOI 10.1023/A:1005150001309
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References found in this work BETA

The Concept of Mind.Gilbert Ryle - 1949 - Revue Philosophique de la France Et de l'Etranger 141:125-126.
[Letter From Gilbert Ryle].Gilbert Ryle - 1932 - Philosophy 7 (26):250 -.
Intransitivity of Preferences.Amos Tversky - 1969 - Psychological Review 76 (1):31-48.
Elimination by Aspects: A Theory of Choice.Amos Tversky - 1972 - Psychological Review 79 (4):281-299.

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A Political Justification of Nudging.Francesco Guala & Luigi Mittone - 2015 - Review of Philosophy and Psychology 6 (3):385-395.
The Impotence of the Value Pump.John Halstead - 2015 - Utilitas 27 (2):195-216.

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