Decision Theory And Rationality

Paperback | March 15, 2011

byJose Luis Bermudez

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The concept of rationality is a common thread through the human and social sciences - from political science to philosophy, from economics to sociology, and from management science to decision analysis. But what counts as rational action and rational behavior? Jose Luis Bermudez explores decision theory as a theory of rationality. Decision theory is the mathematical theory of choice and for many social scientists it makes the concept of rationality mathematically tractable and scientifically legitimate. Yet rationality is a concept with several dimensions and the theory of rationality has different roles to play. It plays an action-guiding role (prescribing what counts as a rational solution of a given decision problem). It plays a normative role (giving us the tools to pass judgment not just onhow a decision problem was solved, but also on how it was set up in the first place). And it plays a predictive/explanatory role (telling us how rational agents will behave, or why they did what they did). This controversial but accessible book shows that decision theory cannot play all of these roles simultaneously. And yet, it argues, no theory of rationality can play one role without playing the other two. The conclusion is that there is no hope of taking decision theory as a theory ofrationality.

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From the Publisher

The concept of rationality is a common thread through the human and social sciences - from political science to philosophy, from economics to sociology, and from management science to decision analysis. But what counts as rational action and rational behavior? Jose Luis Bermudez explores decision theory as a theory of rationality. Deci...

Jose Luis Bermudez is Professor of Philosophy at Washington University in St Louis, where he is director of the Philosophy-Neuroscience-Psychology program and of the Center for Programs in Arts and Sciences.

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Format:PaperbackDimensions:198 pages, 8.5 × 5.43 × 0.01 inPublished:March 15, 2011Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0199596247

ISBN - 13:9780199596249

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Table of Contents

1. Decision theory and the dimensions of rationality2. The first challenge: Making sense of utility and preference3. The second challenge: Individuating outcomes4. The third challenge: Rationality over time5. Rationality: Crossing the fault lines?Bibliography

Editorial Reviews

"This book does an admirable job of surveying and engaging the different possible responses to the challenges it addresses, so it is particularly worth reading to get a nuanced picture of the state of the field... the book gives us not only a thorough assessment of the various challengesfacing decision theory, but also a clear way to frame discussion of the relationships among the different purposes decision theory might serve." --Lara Buchak, Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews