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How Thin Rational Choice Theory Explains Choices

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Original languageEnglish
JournalSTUDIES IN HISTORY AND PHILOSOPHY OF SCIENCE
Early online date28 Mar 2020
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 28 Mar 2020

King's Authors

Abstract

The critics of rational choice theory (RCT) frequently build on the contrast between so-called thick and thin applications of RCT to argue that thin RCT lacks the potential to explain the choices of real-world agents. In this paper, I draw on often-cited RCT applications in several decision sciences to demonstrate that despite this prominent critique there are at least two different senses in which thin RCT can explain real-world agents’ choices. I then defend this thesis against the most influential objections put forward by the critics of RCT. In doing so, I explicate the implications of my thesis for the ongoing philosophical debate concerning the explanatory potential of RCT and the comparative merits of widely endorsed accounts of explanation.

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