PHIL 443 is devoted to foundational issues that arise in connection with the modern theory of rational choice, which underlies orthodox treatments of decision-making found in economics, politics, and other social sciences. The course will investigate the strengths and weaknesses of the "standard" expected utility model, and will explore alternatives. The main focus will be individual decisions, but some aspects of game theory and social choice theory will be covered as well. Topics to be discussed include:
- rational preference and the notion of utility
- the “Dutch book” theorem and the concept of subjective probability
- the effects of risk or ambiguity aversion on choices
- the role of cause-and-effect reasoning in decisions
- time discounting of goods, empirical studies of decision making
- the role of emotional and subconscious processes in choices
- the scope and normative of 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.
Philosophy graduate students enrolling in PHIL 443 are required also to enroll in an intensive, one-hour discussion section, PHIL 590.001. Graduate students in other disciplines may enroll in PHIL 590, and thus for the additional credit hour, at their option.
Undergraduate Work-Load: Five problem sets, one 6-8 page essay, a midterm, and a take-home final.
The course should be interesting and accessible to students from all five of these disciplines, as well as those from sociology, business, and computer science.