The relationship between rationality and reasoning in rational choice and behavioural economics

Staras, Antonios (2019) The relationship between rationality and reasoning in rational choice and behavioural economics. Doctoral thesis, University of East Anglia.

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In normative economics and behavioural social sciences, rationality is described as a set of rationality axioms on preferences. A common explanatory strategy is to attribute deviations from standard decision theory axioms to 'reasoning errors' using the dual-system model. The main idea is that reasoning errors are often sourced in the fast and automatic System 1 and that the logical System 2 has the capacity to correct these errors. Very little effort has been made to explain what this logical reasoning is, what are its 'limitations', and how it leads to preferences that satisfy these axioms.
My thesis explores the relevance of John Broome's (2013) philosophical argument for normative and behavioural economics that the notion of 'reasoning' is separate from that of 'rationality'. I propose a simple 'Broomean' model of reasoning as a conscious, explicit, and rule-guided mental process - what cognitive scientists and behavioural economists call System 2 - and investigate the extent to which rational preferences can or cannot be reached by this type of reasoning.
Chapters 1 and 2 develop the formal framework that allows us to capture and disentangle the notions of reasoning and rationality. Chapter 2 concludes that reasoning is successful in achieving some but not all requirements of the theory. One implication of this is that automatic processes jump in where reasoning fails to lead to rational preferences. Chapter 3 uses this framework to discuss general problems and famous paradoxes to expected utility theory in decision theory and behavioural economics.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Faculty \ School: Faculty of Social Sciences > School of Economics
Depositing User: Jackie Webb
Date Deposited: 20 Jun 2019 10:36
Last Modified: 20 Jun 2019 10:36


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