Amartya Sen's commitments

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A recent post examined the Akerlof and Kranton formalization of identity within a rational choice framework. It is worth considering how this approach compares with Amartya Sen's arguments about "commitments" in "Rational Fools".


There are substantial parts of ordinary human activity that don't make sense if we think of rationality as egoistic maximization of utility. Collective action, group mobilization, religious sacrifice, telling the truth, and working to the fullest extent of one's capabilities are all examples of activity where narrow egoistic rationality would dictate different choices than those ordinary individuals are observed to make. And yet ordinary individuals are not irrational when they behave this way. Rather, they are reflective and deliberative, and they have reasons for their actions. So the theory of rationality needs to have a way of representing this non-egoistic reasonableness.
Daniel Little, "Amartya Sen's commitmentsAmartya Sen's commitments"