MODELING RATIONAL AGENTS THE CONSISTENCY VIEW OF RATIONALITY AND THE CHANGING IMAGE OF NEOCLASSICAL ECONOMICS
The paper investigates the development of the notion of rationality in choice and decision theory from the viewpoint of the transformation undertaken by neoclassical economics during the 20th century — the so-called formalist revolution. The main point is that the reduction of the economic agent to a consistency restriction, carried out by Samuelson's revealed preference theory and (via von Neumann and Morgenstern) Savage's expected utility theory, behind the façade of improving the empirical accountability of economics, eventually acted as a catalyst for that transformation. Thus, no real difference seems to exist on these grounds between Samuelson's, von Neumann and Morgenstern's or Savage's operationalist accounts of choice and decision theory and a purely formalistic approach like Debreu's one.
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