PHIL 443 - Foundations of Rational Choice Theory
Section: 001
Term: FA 2017
Subject: Philosophy (PHIL)
Department: LSA Philosophy
Waitlist Notes:
Advisory Prerequisites:
Two courses in Philosophy, Economics, or Psychology (or some combination thereof) and satisfaction of the Quantitative Reasoning requirement; or permission of instructor.
May not be repeated for credit.
Primary Instructor:

PHIL 443 is devoted to foundational issues that arise within the theories of rational choice that underlie the treatments of decision-making found in economics, politics, and the other social sciences. The course will investigate the strengths and weaknesses of the standard expected utility model, and explore alternatives. While the main focus will be individual decisions, some aspects of game theory may be covered. Topics to be discussed include:

  • the concept of choice
  • rational preference and the notion of utility
  • the “Dutch book” theorem and subjective probability
  • the effects of risk or ambiguity aversion on choices
  • the role of cause-and-effect reasoning in decisions
  • time discounting of goods
  • the role of emotional and subconscious processes in choices
  • the interpretation of empirical studies of decision making
  • the scope and normative standing of the economic theory of rationality.

Readings will be drawn from the literature in economics, psychology, statistics and political science, as well as philosophy.

Course Requirements:

Five problem sets, one 8-10 page argumentative paper, a midterm, and a cumulative final exam

Intended Audience:

should be interesting and accessible to upper class students from economics, psychology, statistics, political science, philosophy, PPE, and cognitive science, as well as those from sociology, business, and computer science. Some quantitative reasoning is required, so satisfaction of at least the QR/1 requirement is strongly recommended.

Class Format:


PHIL 443 - Foundations of Rational Choice Theory
Schedule Listing
001 (LEC)
TuTh 2:30PM - 4:00PM
002 (DIS)
Th 4:00PM - 5:00PM
003 (DIS)
F 11:00AM - 12:00PM
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No textbook required
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