Odd Choices: On the Rationality of Some Alleged Anomalies of Decision and Inference

Topoi 30 (1):59-69 (2011)
This paper presents a number of apparent anomalies in rational choice scenarios, and their translation into the logic of everyday reasoning. Three classes of examples that have been discussed in the context of probabilistic choice since the 1960s (by Debreu, Tversky and others) are analyzed in a non-probabilistic setting. It is shown how they can at the same time be regarded as logical problems that concern the drawing of defeasible inferences from a given information base. I argue that initial appearances notwithstanding, these cases should not be classed as instances of irrationality in choice or reasoning. One way of explaining away their apparent oddity is to view certain aspects of these examples as making particular options salient. The decision problems in point can then be solved by ‘picking’ these options, although they could not have been ‘chosen’ in a principled way, due to ties or incomparabilities with alternative options.
Keywords rational choice  irrationality  inference  non-monotonic logic   context effects
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DOI 10.1007/s11245-010-9084-1
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E. Shafir (1993). Reason-Based Choice. Cognition 49 (1-2):11-36.

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Reed Richter (1984). Rationality Revisited. Australasian Journal of Philosophy 62 (4):392 – 403.
G. Aldo Antonelli (2008). Non-Monotonic Logic. Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.

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