Caught Between the Infinite Regress of Rational Choice and Psychological Determinism

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3 Responses

  1. Infinite regress isn’t necessarily a problem. Many infinite sequences converge. The claim has to be more than just “X leads to infinite regress.” It needs the further claim that cutting off the process at some earlier point leads to significantly wrong results. There’s only a serious indeterminacy problem with the recursive calculations required by the Learned Hand formula IF people systematically cut off their deliberations much too soon.

  2. Jeff Lipshaw says:

    James, that sounds right. But I think Perez’s point is that the decision where to cut off the deliberation is intuitive or heuristic, but not rationally calculated. All the infinite regress tells you is that you can’t rely on the rule “all the way down;” hence, it’s not the final solution to the problem.

  3. The rational choice model doesn’t require that people actually be rational calculators; it requires only that people behave as though they were. “Intuitive” decisions can still involve rational weighing at a subconscious level, and a heuristic can approximate rationality across a wide range of situations. We don’t need to believe that the rational choice model is provably correct to regard it as a good or appropriate model.

    I guess what I’m saying is that I find empirical objections to the rational choice model a lot more convincing than a priori objections, because they go to the heart of why we choose one model or another.