Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Rationality and Reason

Sen also disputes the mainstream economics view of rational choice - and remember, this is a Nobel winner in economics, so it cannot be dismissed as just someone who did not understand Micro 101:

What exactly are the demands of rational choice? One answer that has gained popularity in economics, and more recently politics and law, is people choose rationally if and only if they intelligently pursue their self-interest, and nothing else.

..Since human beings can easily have good reason to also pay attention to objectives other than the single-minded pursuit of self-interest, and can see arguments in favor of taking cognizance of broader values or of normative rules of decent behaviour, [rational choice theory] does reflect an extremely limited understanding of reason and rationality.

Instead, he proposes

Rationality of choice.. Is primarily a matter of basing our choices - explicitly or by implication - on reasoning we can reflectively sustain if we subject them to critical scrutiny. (p179-180)

He later links this to deliberative democracy. Reasonableness counts for more than narrow rationality.

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