The Predicament of Choice

In Russ Shafer-Landau (ed.), Oxford Studies in Metaethics, Vol. 12. Oxford University Press. pp. 294-313 (2017)

Ralph Wedgwood
University of Southern California
Normal agents in the actual world are limited: they cannot think about all the options that are available to them—or even about all options that are available to them according to their evidence. Moreover, agents cannot choose an option unless they have thought about that option. Such agents can be irrational in two ways: either by making their choice too quickly, without canvassing enough options, or by wasting time canvassing ever more options when they have already thought of enough options. This chapter proposes an account of this kind of rationality for limited agents. To be rational, such agents need a kind of background sensitivity to whether or not continuing to search for more options has greater expected value than deciding right away. According to this proposal, it is the unavoidable predicament of choice that all rational decision-making depends on the unconscious operation of mental dispositions.
Keywords rational choice  bounded rationality  expected value  probability  options  unconscious mental processes  creativity
Categories (categorize this paper)
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Request removal from index
Revision history

Download options

Our Archive

Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy     Papers currently archived: 40,183
External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
Through your library

References found in this work BETA

Unprincipled Virtue.Nomy Arpaly - 2003 - The Journal of Ethics 8 (2):201-204.
Sour Grapes: Studies in the Subversion of Rationality.Jon Elster - 1983 - Editions De La Maison des Sciences De L'Homme.
The Foundations of Causal Decision Theory. [REVIEW]Mirek Janusz - 2001 - Philosophical Review 110 (2):296-300.

View all 11 references / Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

No citations found.

Add more citations

Similar books and articles

Why Rational Agents Should Not Be Liberal Maximizers.Isaac Levi - 2008 - Canadian Journal of Philosophy 38 (S1):1-17.
IIA, Rationality, and the Individuation of Options.Tina Rulli & Alex Worsnip - 2016 - Philosophical Studies 173 (1):205-221.
A Framework for Theories of Bounded Rationality.Richard John Reiner - 1993 - Dissertation, York University (Canada)
Consequentialist Options.Jussi Suikkanen - 2014 - Utilitas 26 (3):276-302.
The Natural Realm of Social Law.Bairj Donabedian - 2003 - Sociological Theory 21 (2):175-190.


Added to PP index

Total views
9 ( #734,699 of 2,237,433 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
5 ( #388,281 of 2,237,433 )

How can I increase my downloads?


My notes

Sign in to use this feature