Skip to main content Accessibility help
×
Home
Hostname: page-component-65dc7cd545-wvgct Total loading time: 0.196 Render date: 2021-07-25T14:07:00.693Z Has data issue: true Feature Flags: { "shouldUseShareProductTool": true, "shouldUseHypothesis": true, "isUnsiloEnabled": true, "metricsAbstractViews": false, "figures": true, "newCiteModal": false, "newCitedByModal": true, "newEcommerce": true, "newUsageEvents": true }

On the Possibility of Rational Dilemmas: An Axiomatic Approach

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  16 October 2009

Robin P. Cubitt
Affiliation:
University of East Anglia

Extract

In this paper, I address two connected issues that arise when one considers a rational agent facing a decision problem. One is whether or not the agent may find that the dictates of rationality are such that they cannot all be followed. For example, one may ask whether or not the requirements on the agent's actions imposed by rationality can conflict in an irreconcilable way, making it impossible to satisfy all of them. Put differently, one may ask whether or not any apparent conflict of this type must in fact be capable of rational resolution. I shall say that an agent who is in a position in which the requirements of rationality cannot all be satisfied faces a feasibility dilemma, and I shall characterize certain conceptions of rationality that differ according to whether or not they admit such a possibility. A second issue concerns the number of options that may be deemed rational in a decision problem. Is rationality sufficiently determinate that it always dictates precisely one choice, or may there be more than one rationally permissible option? Is there anything about rationality itself that guarantees that any of the possible options could rationally be chosen? I shall call this issue – whether the concept of rationality itself places any limits on the number of options that may be deemed rational in a given problem – the numbers problem.

Type
Essays
Copyright
Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1993

Access options

Get access to the full version of this content by using one of the access options below.

References

Abreu, D., and Pearce, D. G.. 1984. “On the Inconsistency of Certain Axioms on Solution Concepts for Noncooperative Games.” Journal of Economic Theory 34:169–74.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Bacharach, M. O. L. 1987. “A Theory of Rational Decision in Games.” Erkenntnis 27:1755.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Bernheim, B. D. 1986. “Axiomatic Characterizations of Rational Choice in Strategic Environments.” Scandinavian Journal of Economics 88:473–88.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Cubitt, R. P. 1989. “Refinements of Nash Equilibrium: A Critique.” Theory and Decision 26:107131.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Cubitt, R. P., and Sugden, R.. 1991. “Rationally Justifiable Play and the Theory of Noncooperative Games.” Economics Research Centre Discussion Paper No. 9123, University of East Anglia.Google Scholar
Follesdal, D., and Hilpinen, R.. 1970. “Deontic Logic: An Introduction.” In Deontic Logic: Introductory and Systematic Readings, edited by Hilpinen, R., pp. 135. Amsterdam: Reidel.Google Scholar
Harsanyi, J., and Selten, R.. 1988. A General Theory of Equilibrium Selection in Games. Cambridge, MA, and London: MIT Press.Google Scholar
Johansen, L. 1982. “On the Status of the Nash Type of Noncooperative Equilibrium in Economic Theory.” Scandinavian Journal of Economics 84:421–41.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Levi, I. 1986. Hard Choices. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Morton, A. 1991. Disasters and Dilemmas: Strategies for Real-Life Decision Making. Oxford: Basil Blackwell.Google Scholar
Ross, W. D. 1938. The Foundations of Ethics. Oxford: The Clarendon Press.Google Scholar
Samuelson, P. A. 1938a. “A Note on the Pure Theory of Consumer's Behaviour.” Economica 5:6171.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Samuelson, P. A. 1938b. “A Note on the Pure Theory of Consumer's Behaviour: An Addendum.” Economica 5:353–54.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Samuelson, P. A. 1947. Foundations of Economic Analysis. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
Van Fraassen, B. 1973. “Values and the Heart's Command.” Journal of Philosophy 70:519.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Von Wright, G. K. 1951. “Deontic Logic.” Mind 60:115.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Williams, B. 1965. “Ethical Consistency.” Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society, XXXIX, pp. 103´24. Reprinted in Williams (1973).Google Scholar
Williams, B. 1973. Problems of the Self. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
1
Cited by

Send article to Kindle

To send this article to your Kindle, first ensure no-reply@cambridge.org is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part of your Kindle email address below. Find out more about sending to your Kindle. Find out more about sending to your Kindle.

Note you can select to send to either the @free.kindle.com or @kindle.com variations. ‘@free.kindle.com’ emails are free but can only be sent to your device when it is connected to wi-fi. ‘@kindle.com’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.

Find out more about the Kindle Personal Document Service.

On the Possibility of Rational Dilemmas: An Axiomatic Approach
Available formats
×

Send article to Dropbox

To send this article to your Dropbox account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your <service> account. Find out more about sending content to Dropbox.

On the Possibility of Rational Dilemmas: An Axiomatic Approach
Available formats
×

Send article to Google Drive

To send this article to your Google Drive account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your <service> account. Find out more about sending content to Google Drive.

On the Possibility of Rational Dilemmas: An Axiomatic Approach
Available formats
×
×

Reply to: Submit a response

Please enter your response.

Your details

Please enter a valid email address.

Conflicting interests

Do you have any conflicting interests? *