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Economic Analysis

  • Date Submitted: 02/15/2012 08:38 PM
  • Flesch-Kincaid Score: 29.6 
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Both the assumptions and the behavioral predictions of rational choice theory have sparked criticism from various camps. Some people have developed models of bounded rationality, which hope to be more psychologically plausible without completely abandoning the idea that reason underlies decision-making processes. For a long time, a popular strain of critique was a lack of empirical basis, but experimental economics and experimental game theory have largely changed that critique (although they have added other critiques, mainly by demonstrating some human behavior that consistently deviates from rational choice theory, see cognitive bias).
In their 1994 piece, Pathologies of Rational Choice Theory, Green and Shapiro argue that the empirical outputs of rational choice theory have been limited. They contend that much of the applicable literature, at least in Political Science, was done with weak methods and that when corrected many of the empirical outcomes no longer hold. When taken in this perspective, Rational Choice Theory has provided very little to the overall understanding of political interaction - and is an amount certainly disproportionately weak relative to its appearance in the literature (Green and Shapiro, 1994).
Schram and Caterino (2006) contains a fundamental methodological criticism of rational choice theory for promoting the view that the natural science model is the only appropriate methodology in social science and that political science should follow this model, with its emphasis on quantification and mathematization. Schram and Caterino argue instead for methodological pluralism.
Another wave of criticisms came during the 19th and 20th centuries by a group of philosophers, now known as existentialists, who denounced the assumptions of rational choice theorists as dehumanizing and inaccurate. A central tenet of existentialism holds that human beings don't always act in their own interest, even when they know it.[3]
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