# Lecture 020

### Attack

Rational Choice Theory (RCT):

• "thin"

• methodological individualist

• utility maximization

• Opinions: unrealistic / incomplete / can generate testable hypothesis / reliable

Rational Choice Assumptions

• actor knows all possible actions

• actor knows the consequence of all actions

• actor has a subjective preference for each action so that all actions are comparable (complete and transitive)

• actor decides to maximize net gain (rational)

Criticism:

• above assumption is false

• without consider: interpersonal, culture..., not explained by RCT

• human cannot calculate consequence (mathematically consistent)

• preference might not be consistent throughout time

• turn down by experiments of behavior economics

• RCT approach is too simplistic, artificial assumption, restrictive option for human to act

• utility is: universal, no social context, cultural forms, social relationship... (the context)

• ethics is not a conceptual interest, only self-interest. ethics not "part of multi-value social shared complex"

### Defense

Better with unrealistic assumptions

• more assumption -> less valuable a theory

• less assumption(unrealistic) -> more valuable a theory

assumption shouldn't be judged by the number assume earth will be destroied tomorrow != assume sun will rise tomorrow "or" statement does not add the scope of an assumption often, the RCT theory not presented as "assume maximize wealth", but as "assume maximize wealth, and not maximize other things", then this is no longer 1 assumption

unrealistic:

• non-exhaustive description - then all science are incomplete and partial

• false, improbable assumption

• "idealized" situation

THE QUESTION LIES ON WHETHER COMPOSE OF FUNCTIONS IS SMOOTH, LINEAR

## Question

1. Rational Choice Theory (RCT) assume that an actor will maximize their utility, which can be anything the actor desire, including "social approval by peers" (page 8). If an actor decides to maximize "social approval by peers", then the actor automatically takes cultural factors like "group loyalty or civility or humility" into account, since these factors can affect the actor's "social approval by peers". Cultural knowledge can shape an actor's utility in which the actor values, but this fact does not undermine RCT because all utility, at some abstraction level, can be universal. This is because all humans are biological beings who, in the theory of evolution, maximize their chance of survival and reproduction (whether all human desire can be indirectly linked to survival and reproduction is rather an ontological question). In summary, cultural factors can be explained in terms of RCT if one believes that there is a universal utility associated with them at some abstraction level.

1. assumption is ever testified? Assumption is testified if one would use the theory for prediction (ie. to see if they can start applying the theory. if assumption is false in real world, one cannot start applying a theory)

2. In his earlier claim about assumptions are wrong. The main objection is social science, unlike physical science, can't really single out one assumption. Rather, scientists have implicit assumptions.

3. A "think" analytical technique is good if and only if multiple think analysis can build up a "thick" analysis. (This assumption may or may not be true based on situation)

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