Articles on Rational Choice Theory

Rational Choice Theory is an account of rational agency which underpins much economic theorising. Indeed, in some formulations of RCT, the choice between courses of action about which an agent is construed as deliberating is between purchasing some commodity and not purchasing it, i.e., between consuming and not consuming in the sense in which standard economic theory understands the notion of consumption. I will gradually be building up, in this post, a list of links to articles outlining RCT.

RCT is often also endorsed and applied in public policy circles. For example, it has been a powerful force in urban planning-see P. Mees, A Very Public Solution, Melbourne: University of Melbourne Press, 2000, pp.95-115. (Mees calls RCT “public choice theory.”) RCT is an essential component of neo-liberalism, otherwise known (in Australia) as economic rationalism. It is important to note, however, that one can endorse RCT without necessarily endorsing neo-liberalism.

Some of the articles I post here will be more serious than others. But even the lighter weight ones should provide at least some useful historical information about RCT. For a fascinating account of the rise of RCT to ideological hegemony in the USA, see S. M. Amadae, Rationalizing Capitalist Democracy, Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2003.

If anyone should find further articles on RCT, they should send them to me and I will post them.

Wikipedia Entry on Rational Choice Theory

Cox – The Empirical Content of Rational Choice Theory

McCumber – The Failure of RCT


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