Rational Choice Theory (RCT)

Rational Choice Theory (RCT)

    1. Comes from Economics - People are rational, and by and large make choices in their own best self-interest.
    2. Theory gets applied to all social and political actions, not just economics.
    3. This type of rationality is different from the philosophical analysis of reason.
    4. RCT is not the same as decision theory either.
    5. As a sociological theory, it aims to explain and predict behavioral patterns of groups of people, not individuals.


Key notions:

      1. intentionality
      2. rationality
      3. how complete is the information available?
      4. levels of risk and uncertainty - not the same.
      5. strategic or interdependent behavior?


Game theory

    1. Type of rules: zero-sum, variable sum, conflict/cooperation, fixed sum games
    2. strategic form versus extended form games: number of iterations.
    3. how many players, and how are they operating? individuals, institutions, companies, etc.


Critique of RCT:

      1. RCT develops post-hoc explanations
      2. It assumes a culturally free notion of rationality
      3. the use of history is highly restricted
      4. Does the theory recognize the difference between acting as if one is rational, and acting because one is rational.