Advertisement

Social Norms, Rational Choice and Belief Change

  • Horacio Arló-CostaEmail author
  • Arthur Paul Pedersen
Chapter
Part of the Logic, Epistemology, and the Unity of Science book series (LEUS, volume 21)

Abstract

This chapter elaborates on foundational issues in the social sciences and their impact on the contemporary theory of belief revision. Recent work in the foundations of economics has focused on the role external social norms play in choice. Amartya Sen (Econometrica 61(3): 495–521, 1993) has argued that the traditional rationalizability approach used in the theory of rational choice has serious problems accommodating the role of social norms. Sen’s more recent work (Language, world and reality 1996, pp. 19–31; Econometrica 65 (4): 745–779, 1997) proposes how one might represent social norms in the theory of choice, and in a very recent article Walter Bossert and Kotaro Suzumura (Social norms and rationality of choice, preprint, 2007) develop Sen’s proposal, offering an extension of the classical theory of choice that is capable of dealing with social norms.

The first part of this article offers an alternative functional characterization of the extended notion of rationality employed by Bossert and Suzumura (Social norms and rationality of choice, Preprint, 2007). This characterization, unlike the one offered in (Social norms and rationality of choice, Preprint, 2007), represents a norm-sensitive notion of rationality in terms of a pure functional constraint unmediated by a notion of revealed preference (something that is crucial for the application developed in the second part of this article). This functional characterization is formulated for general domains (as is Bossert and Suzumura’s characterization) and is therefore empirically more applicable than usual characterizations of rationality. Interestingly, the functional constraint we propose is a variant of a condition first entertained in Carlos Alchourrón et al. (The Journal of Symbolic Logic 50(2): 510–530, 1985) in the area of belief change.

The second part of this article applies the theory developed in the first part to the realm of belief change. We first point out that social norms can be invoked to concoct counterexamples against some postulates of belief change (like postulate (*7)) which are necessary for belief change to be relational. These examples constitute the epistemological counterpart of Sen’s counterexamples against condition α in rational choice (as a matter of fact, Rott (Change, choice and inference: A study of belief revision and nonmonotonic reasoning 2001) has showed that condition α and postulate (*7) are mutually mappable). These examples are variants of examples Rott (Synthese 139(2): 225–240, 2004) has recently presented. One of our main goals in this article consists in applying the theory developed in the first part to develop a theory of norm-inclusive belief change that circumvents the counterexamples. We offer a new axiomatization for belief change and we furnish correspondence results relating constraints of rational choice to postulates of belief change.

Keywords

Social Norm Selection Function Rational Choice Choice Function Belief Revision 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

References

  1. Alchourrón, Carlos E., and David Makinson. 1985. On the logic of theory change: safe contraction. Studia Logica 44(4):405–422.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Alchourrón, Carlos E., Peter Gärdenfors, and David Makinson. 1985. On the logic of theory change: Partial meet contraction and revision functions. The Journal of Symbolic Logic 50(2): 510–530.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Arló-Costa, Horacio. 1995. Epistemic conditionals, snakes and stars, conditionals: From philosophy to computer science. In Studies in logic and computation, eds. A. Herzig, L. Farinas del Cerro, and G. Crocco, vol. 5, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 193–239.Google Scholar
  4. Arló-Costa, Horacio. 2006. Rationality and value: The epistemological role of interdeterminate and agent-dependent values. Philosophical Studies 128(1):7–48.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Arrow, Kenneth J. 1951. Social choice and individual values. 1 edn. New York, NY: Wiley.Google Scholar
  6. Arrow, Kenneth J. 1959. Rational choice functions and orderings. Economica 26:121–127.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Bicchieri, Cristina. 2006. The grammar of society: The nature and dynamics of social norms. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  8. Bossert, W., and K. Suzumura. 2007. Social norms and rationality of choice, Preprint, Département de Sciences Economiques, Université de Montréal, August 2007.Google Scholar
  9. Elster, Jon. 1989a. Nuts and bolts for the social sciences. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  10. Elster, Jon. 1989b. Social norms and economic theory. The Journal of Economic Perspectives 3(4):99–117.Google Scholar
  11. Gärdenfors, Peter. 1979. Conditionals and changes of belief. In Logic and epistemology of scientific change eds. I. Niiniluoto and R. Tuomela, 381–404. Acta Philosophica Fennica, vol. 30. Amsterdam: North-Holland Publishing, 1979.Google Scholar
  12. Gärdenfors, Peter. 1988. Knowledge in flux. modeling the dynamics of epistemic states. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.Google Scholar
  13. Gärdenfors, Peter. (ed.) 1992. Belief revision: An introduction, belief revision. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1–28.Google Scholar
  14. Gärdenfors, Peter., and David Makinson. 1994. Nonmonotonic inference based on expectations. Artificial Intelligence 65(2):197–245.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Gärdenfors, Peter., and Hans Rott. 1995. Belief revision. In Handbook of logic in artificial intelligence and logic programming, eds. Dov M. Gabbay, C.J. Hogger, and J.A. Robinson, vol. 4, 35–132. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  16. Grove, Adam. 1988. Two modellings for theory change. Journal of Philosophical Logic 17(2):157–170.Google Scholar
  17. Hansson, B., 1968. Choice structures and preference relations. Synthese 18(4):443–458.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Hansson, Sven Ove., 1999. A textbook of belief dynamics: Theory change and database updating. Dordrecht: Kluwer.Google Scholar
  19. Herzberger, Hans G. 1973. Ordinal preference and rational choice. Econometrica 41(2):187–237.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Kraus, Sarit, Daniel Lehmann, and Menachem Magidor. (1990) Nonmonotonic reasoning, preferential models and cumulative logics. Artificial Intelligence 44(1–2):167–207.Google Scholar
  21. Lehmann, Daniel, and Menachem Magidor. 1992. What does a conditional knowledge base entail? Artificial Intelligence 55(1):1–60.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Levi, Isaac. 1996. For the sake of the argument. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  23. Levi, Isaac. 2004a. Inclusive rationality: A review of Amartya Sen: rationality and freedom. The Journal of Philosophy 101(5):255–276.Google Scholar
  24. Levi, Isaac. 2004b. Mild contraction. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  25. Makinson, David. 1989. General theory of cumulative inference, Proceedings of the 2nd International Workshop on Non-Monotonic Reasoning, 1–18. Lecture Notes in Computer Science, vol. 346, Berlin: Springer.Google Scholar
  26. Makinson, David., and Peter Gärdenfors. 1991. Relations between the logic of theory change and nonmonotonic logic. In The logic of theory change, eds. André Fuhrmann and Michael Morreau, 185–205. Lecture Notes in Computer Science, Berlin: Springer.Google Scholar
  27. Moulin, H. 1985. Choice functions over a finite set: A summary. Social Choice and Welfare 2:147–160.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Olsson, Erik J. 2003. Belief revision, rational choice and the unity of reason. Studia Logica 73(2):219–240.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Pedersen, Arthur Paul. 2008. Rational choice and belief revision: An essay in formal epistemology, Master’s thesis, Carnegie Mellon University, Department of Philosophy.Google Scholar
  30. Pearl, Judea., and M. Goldszmidt. 1996. Qualitative probabilities for default reasoning, belief revision, and causal modeling. Artificial Intelligence 84(1–2):57–112.Google Scholar
  31. Ray, Paramesh. 1973. Independence of irrelevant alternatives. Econometrica 41(5):987–991.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Richter, M.K. 1966. Revealed preference theory. Econometrica 34(3):635–645.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Richter, M.K. 1971. Rational choice. In Preferences, utility, and demand, eds. J. Chipman, L. Hurwicz, M. Richter, and H. Sonnenshein, 29–58. San Diego, CA: Harcourt Brace Javanovich.Google Scholar
  34. Rott, Hans. 1993. Belief contraction in the context of the general theory of rational choice. Journal of Symbolic Logic 58(4):1426–1450.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Rott, Hans. 2001. Change, choice and inference: A study of belief revision and nonmonotonic reasoning. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  36. Rott, Hans. 2004. A counterexample to six fundamental principles of belief formation. Synthese 139(2):225–240.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Rott, Hans., and Maurice Pagnucco. 2000. Severe withdrawal (and recovery). Journal of Philosophical Logic 28(5):501–547.Google Scholar
  38. Samuelson, Paul A. 1938. A note on the pure theory of consumers. Economica 5:61–71.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Samuelson, Paul A. 1947. Foundations of economic analysis. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  40. Sen, Amartya. 1970. Collective choice and social welfare. San Francisco, CA: Holden-Day.Google Scholar
  41. Sen, Amartya. 1971. Choice functions and revealed preference. Review of Economic Studies 38:307–317.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Sen, Amartya. 1977. Social choice theory: A re-examination. Econometrica 45(1):53–89.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Sen, Amartya. 1993. Internal consistency of choice. Econometrica 61(3):495–521.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Sen, Amartya. 1996. Is the idea of purely internal consistency of choice Bizarre? In Language, World and Reality, eds. J.E.J Altham and T.R. Harrison, 19–31. A Festschrift for Bernard Williams, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  45. Sen, Amartya. 1997. Maximization and the act of choice, Econometrica 65(4):745–779.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Spohn, Wolfgang. 2009. A survey in ranking theory, In Degrees of belief: An anthology, eds. Franz Huber, Cristoph Schmidt-Petri, 185–229. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  47. Suzumura, Kotaro. 1976. Rational choice and revealed preference, Review of Economic Studies 43(1):149–158.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Suzumura, Kotaro. 1983. Rational choice, collective decisions, and social welfare. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PhilosophyCarnegie Mellon UniversityPittsburghUSA

Personalised recommendations