The formalizing of self-interest as an economic principle was largely the work of Francis Edgeworth. It is sometimes wrongly traced back to the. It is worth considering how this approach compares with Amartya Sen’s arguments about “commitments” in “Rational Fools” (link). Sen’s essay. PDF | This article presents a critique of Amartya Sen’s article “Rational Fools”.

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The Creation of Rational Fools

A further finding by the same research team found that “students generally show a pronounced tendency toward more cooperative behavior with movement toward graduation, but this trend is conspicuously absent for economics majors” Frank, et al. You are commenting using your Twitter account. There are substantial parts of ordinary human activity that don’t make sense if we think of rationality as egoistic maximization of utility. Such results do not prove the cause of this difference in behavior or reasoning, but they do provide a very strong suggestion that the non-economists tend to act more in accordance with justice as impartiality or ethical preferences while the economists act closer to how homo economicus would behave.

Sympathy involves an individual being linked to others, feeling sad when they are sad and happy when they are happy. Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: By continuing to use this website, you agree to their use.

Despite the suggestiveness of this finding, these studies do not prove that it is economics that leads to non-cooperative behavior as opposed to non-cooperative people tending to study economics. Needless to say, actions based on justice as impartiality may be quite different than actions based upon justice as mutual advantage. I wish I liked vegetarian foods more, amratya I wish I cared more about others.


Moving on from Edgeworth, the argument for self-interest and rationality has sometimes been given in the form of revealed preference. But Sen rightly points out that this construction doesn’t give us a basis for choosing when the two orderings dictate incompatible choices. Rxtional Post Older Post Home. Fundamental to nearly all of economics is the economic theory of utility.

Amartya Sen Rational Fools | Oxbridge Notes the United Kingdom

This is significant because it focuses attention on a very basic fact: But defenders of standard economic theory and homo economicus may simply say that this is foole practical error, not a shortcoming of the fundamental principle of utility-maximization.

Ethical preferences are those based on impersonal social considerations while subjective preferences are purely personal.

It is simply the choices that are actually taken in a given situation. The Future of Behavioral Game Theory.

But which of the many options does the individual use in any given situation? Request removal from index. Peter Ulrich – – Cambridge University Press. Sen cautions not to make the same mistake Edgeworth made when rejecting utility and concluding that rejection implied self-interest egoism.

Understanding Society: Amartya Sen’s commitments

Stanovich – – Thinking and Reasoning 19 1: Thus, an actor can be aware of the “right” thing to do and yet be inclined to do another. California Series on Social Choice and Political. Homo economicus, the notion of humans as simple maximizers of individual utility, has been around foolz the birth of modern economics. Smartya me of new comments via email. Wednesday, March 21, Amartya Sen’s commitments.


The Role of Shared Values. Homo economicus is not equipped to understand his disabilities, and those that emulate him are destined to become rational fools. I prefer it when the people I care about are happy, and so I might give up some amount of my self-interested rationsl in exchange for the happiness I feel when they are happy.

One tational may be to introduce different sets of preferences for the same individual. Preference ordering M may be the “moral” option or the preference ordering based on justice as impartiality, commitment or ethical preferences.

After this critique, Sen then begins to build up his alternative vision. First, this reduces preferences to observed behavior, as mistake already critiqued above. But even if additional motivations are present, claiming that commitment is never even a partial motivation is to say that a non-consequentialist belief is never a reason in itself for action. Surely one would have to be a fool to accept the risks of disregarding such an effective and thoroughly tested decision-making mechanism in the hope of gaining some marginal advantage.