On the Explanation of Rules Using Rational Choice Models

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Taylor & Francis Group


Methodological debates in economics have a reputation for sterility based on their pleasant contribution to casual conversation and their apparent lack of any visible impact on the actual practice of the discipline. This reputation naturally discourages the thoughtful individual from making an additional contribution to the literature in this area. Such discouragement, however, can be counterbalanced by the general belief that the proper approach to important but difficult problems is not to ignore them, and by the specific conviction, which must in turn be justified, that one has something of importance to say on these matters. Needless to say, the author holds the former belief. In particular, it can be argued that economists, as a profession, have not adequately con- fronted the methodological issues associated with the analysis or ex- planation of that category of phenomena known as institutional or rule structures.