Rationaly Choice Thoery?-Reply -Reply

Lisa Rogers EQDOMAIN.EQWQ.LROGERS at email.state.ut.us
Thu Apr 6 16:49:50 MDT 1995

Fellini posted (in part):
...      Furthermore, Justin, I believe the difference between
'preference' and 'interest' in your argument is quite trivial.
Rationality principle does not necessarily imply 'preference'; more
generally it argues that individuals behave in their self-interest.
... RCT does not distinguish between a saint and Hitler, for both are
quite rational for their given ends (after all, nazis devised one of
the most 'efficient' way for mass- murder.) So, how can we explain
the differences between them?
...I don't agree with Lisa in that "This is not intended to
"explain everything" as some critics have said, no assumption can,
but that is not what it is for." To my mind it was clearly intended
to do so.
So, these are my "bullets" for RCT and its application to Marxism;
I hope they are "low-calibre" enough.

Dear Fellini, I like your ammo - both logical and polite! as always.

I have wondered about the difference between preference and interest
- maybe if one defines one's own interests, there is no difference.
But this definition by itself says nothing about why people want one
thing or another.

So, how do we define someone's interests, or one's self-interest?
There is a lot of discussion about people's interests as distinct
from what they may think they want, or contrary to what they like.
It seems that Marxists mostly talk about "class interests" which are
long-term group interests, and if someone seeks their own,
conflicting interest ("I've got the foreman's job at last"), then
what shall we call that?

I also hear Marxists say that capitalists are doing things that will
end up hurting themselves in the long run.  Well, what time-span is
profit seeking (economic rationality?) expected to focus upon?

On my last excerpt from Fellini above, let me clarify - I cannot
defend "RCT" as it was invented or used by anybody else.  While I may
find microeconomics to have a point, place or usefulness, I am not at
all a neoclassicist, especially not in terms of justifying the status
quo, finding it to be the best of all possible worlds, resisting
change, etc.  (I think I'm a Marxian radical activist, even if I do
not toe somebody's "party line" or orthodoxy.)

It is my use of the concept of individuals seeking self-interest, in
my definition, that I claim to be a useful assumption in my work.  I
do not claim it to be an explanation, my explanations don't look like

Cheers, Lisa

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