Adding Reasons Up
William A. Edmundson
Georgia State University College of Law
ECONOMICS AND MIND, Barbara Montero, Mark White, eds., Routledge, 2007
This chapter argues that the "maximizing conception" of rationality that economists are criticized for employing is one that moral philosophers cannot well do without. But the maximizing conception, though essential to identifying what reason requires that we choose, seems unsuited to the task of explaining why we choose what we do - even when we do choose as reason requires. In practice, the maximizing conception seems as unenlightening as an explanation of choice as it is hopeless as a decision strategy. The chapter concludes by suggesting that the two-system model of practical rationality that Kahneman and Tversky have pioneered (Tversky and Kahneman 1971) can be seen as a step toward reconciling the normative and positive aims of economics (compare Hausman and McPherson 1994 with Friedman 1953).
Keywords: rationality, aggregation, constrained rationality, duty, obligation
JEL Classification: A1, B4
Date posted: June 12, 2008