A Framework for Cognitive Economics

By Roger A. McCain | Go to book overview

rationales among which a person may choose, which, in turn, evolves and emerges in history. This point will be enlarged in the next chapter.


NOTES
1.
But this focus on choice may mislead us, unless we are rather careful. Choice suggests well-defined alternatives among which one chooses. This may be a deceptive connotation. Choice is the realization of some potentialities rather than others, that is, concretization (Whitehead 1938, 1978). In a deep philosophic sense, all potentialities are eternal potentialities, so that all creativity is choice among preexisting alternatives. But at the level of concrete life, it is important to remember that the concrete alternatives may be created at the time they are chosen. If we focus on choice (in the everyday sense) to the exclusion of creativity, we will lose sight of the most important part of human activity. That fallacy, too, is a part of modern economic theory.
2.
And they commonly have been ruled out of court by neoclassical economists in recent years. Unfortunately, documentation of the point is beyond the scope of this work, which is not a survey. For some strong examples, see Morgenstern and Schwödiauer 1976; Becker and Murphy 1988; Hamermesh and Soss 1974; and de Alessi 1983.
3.
This is why the hypothesis stated above about the relationship of normative to procedural rationality may not be true, even on the average.
4.
Since it is a relative conception, and in essence a definition, the procedural conception is not subject to empirical test. It might be tested indirectly by its fruitfulness in giving rise to theories that are both testable and valid. The neoclassical conception is also definitional, and a prolific source of falsifiable propositions but, as I have argued, they are indeed falsified, so the neoclassical definition fails on just that sort of test. But the text argues that the procedural definition fails in another sense: that it does not correspond reasonably to what we ordinarily think of as rationality.
5.
As cited in Elster 1986, p. 2 n. 2. Elster dissents from this view, but, I believe, unconvincingly. It may be, as some evidence indicates, that animals sometimes act on the basis of mental representations; but a reason is not just any mental representation.
6.
I have in mind here the evidence that experimental rats and pigeons act as if they maximized utility functions (e.g., Plott 1986; Elster 1989, p. 3).
7.
Clearly, the utilitarian concept of rationality was originally intendedly as a crosscultural universal and usually still is. But since this kind of rationality is inapplicable to any human being, it clearly is also inapplicable to the human species in general.
8.
And (continuing the thought in the previous footnote) the neoclassical conception is often criticized for missing this point: that it attributes to non-Western peoples motivations which are actually culturally conditioned Western ones. Without falling into the "noble savage" fallacy, there is good reason for this criticism; but the answer is not to narrow the application but to broaden the interpretation of rationality, distinguishing between the forms of rationality (which are a human universal) and the content (which is culturally and historically conditioned).
9.
To what extent can the forms of language be said to be universal? If we accept Chomsky's ( 1966) ever-controversial views on the matter, the deep structure of language is indeed a human universal; but if we reject that view (and certainly, the surface structures of grammars are various) then it is only in the use of sound symbols to represent ideas. A linguistic concept of rationality will need something more than that, but, happily, the

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A Framework for Cognitive Economics
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Illustrations ix
  • Acknowledgments xi
  • Part I 1
  • 1 - Why Cognitive Economics? 3
  • Notes 12
  • 2 - Some Learning from Cognitive Science 15
  • Notes 23
  • 3 - Resources for Cognitive Economics 27
  • Notes 39
  • 4 - A Prospect of Cognitive Economics 43
  • Notes 62
  • Part II 65
  • 5 - Impulse-Filtering: a New Model of Choice 67
  • Notes 79
  • 6 - Groping: a Special Case of Impulse-Filtering 83
  • Notes 96
  • 7 - Impulse-Filtering as a Theory in Social Science 99
  • Notes 107
  • 8 - Impulse-Filtering as a Theory of Will 109
  • Notes 114
  • Part III 115
  • 9 - Giving Reasons: a Linguistic Conception of Rationality 117
  • Notes 128
  • 10 - The Linguistic Conception as a Theory of Rationality 133
  • Notes 143
  • 11 - The Nexus of Fact and Value 147
  • Notes 164
  • 12 - Applications of the Linguistic Conception of Rationality 167
  • Notes 183
  • 13 - Political Economy: the Critical Study of Rationales for Public Policy 187
  • Notes 193
  • 14 - Emergent Rationality and Technical Progress 195
  • Notes 202
  • Part IV 205
  • 15 - Rational Action Equilibrium 207
  • Notes 220
  • 16 - Rationality and Market Equilibrium 223
  • Notes 232
  • 17 - Applications of Heuristic Game Equilibrium 237
  • Notes 247
  • 18 - Sketch of a Theory of Creativity in Terms of Impulse-Filtering and the Linguistic Concept of Rationality 249
  • Notes 258
  • 19 - The Creative Enterprise 261
  • Notes 281
  • 20 - Final Summary 283
  • Notes 288
  • References 291
  • Selected Name Index 313
  • Subject Index 315
  • About the Author *
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