Looking for a psychology for the inner rational agent

Sugden, Robert (2015) Looking for a psychology for the inner rational agent. Social Theory and Practice, 41 (4). pp. 579-598. ISSN 2154-123X

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Research in psychology and behavioural economics shows that individuals’ choices often depend on ‘irrelevant’ contextual factors. This presents problems for normative economics, which has traditionally used preference-satisfaction as its criterion. A common response is to claim that individuals have context-independent latent preferences which are ‘distorted’ by psychological factors, and that latent preferences should be respected. This response implicitly uses a model of human action in which each human being has an ‘inner rational agent’. I argue that this model is psychologically ungrounded. Although references to latent preferences appear in psychologically-based explanations of context-dependent choice, latent preferences serve no explanatory purpose.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: inner rational agent,behavioural welfare economics,preference purification,attention,true self
Faculty \ School: Faculty of Social Sciences > School of Economics
Depositing User: Pure Connector
Date Deposited: 06 Oct 2015 00:06
Last Modified: 18 Oct 2022 15:30
URI: https://ueaeprints.uea.ac.uk/id/eprint/54622
DOI: 10.5840/soctheorpract201541432

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