Behavioural and heuristic models are as-if models too – and that’s ok

Economics and Philosophy:1-31 (forthcoming)
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I examine some behavioural and heuristic models of individual decision-making and argue that the diverse psychological mechanisms these models posit are too demanding to be implemented, either consciously or unconsciously, by actual decision makers. Accordingly, and contrary to what their advocates typically claim, behavioural and heuristic models are best understood as ‘as-if’ models. I then sketch a version of scientific antirealism that justifies the practice of as-if modelling in decision theory but goes beyond traditional instrumentalism. Finally, I relate my account of decision models to the recent controversy about mentalism versus behaviourism, reject both positions, and offer an alternative view.



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Explanation: a mechanist alternative.William Bechtel & Adele Abrahamsen - 2005 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 36 (2):421-441.
How scientific models can explain.Alisa Bokulich - 2011 - Synthese 180 (1):33 - 45.
Intransitivity of preferences.Amos Tversky - 1969 - Psychological Review 76 (1):31-48.

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