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2004 | 13 | 1(49) | 257-270
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Rationality--Human Individual--Action

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The rational choice theory pretends to explain human behaviour. It is not clear, however, that the theory can accomplish this task without first justifying a broader conception of rationality. Is it rational to maximise profits or to minimise risks? It seems that the theory must adopt some such limiting assumptions, by replacing, for instance, 'expected payoffs' by 'subjectively perceived advantages', before it can begin to make any recommendations. The subjective approach involves individual preferences based on memory of past events. If someone wants to beat the record of the latter day Simon Stylite, he must first consult the Guinness Book of Records to learn who recently remained longest on the top of a pillar. Then, in one sense, it is rational for the challenger to stay on the pillar for a longer time than the most recent record breaker did, but at the same time it is not entirely rational for him to undertake this task at all. It seems that all individuals are capable of seeing both sides of the coin. If so, the dichotomy of objective versus subjective characterisation of rationality can be replaced by a holistic versus aspect approach.
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  • D. Aleksandrowicz, Europa Universitaet Viadrina, Lst. Philosoph. Grundl. Kulturwiss. Analyse, Frankfurt (O), Federal Republic of Germany
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