Meta-Rational Choice

Posted: 18 Aug 2018

See all articles by Daniel Pi

Daniel Pi

Mitchell Hamline School of Law

Date Written: August 4, 2018


The principal result of this article relates to several foundational problems in the economic conception of the rational actor. It proves that for any possible decision-maker, there necessarily exists a real-valued function such that every counterfactual choice that the decision-maker would make can be represented as maximizing that function. The formal framework constructed to prove this result resolves several persistent technical problems associated with earlier conceptions of rationality and establishes that for any set of possible behaviors, there necessarily exists a representation that characterizes that behavior as "utility-maximizing." Several implications and interpretations – both practical and philosophical – of the result are explored.

Keywords: behavioral economics, heuristics, biases, rationality, bounded rationality

JEL Classification: D01, D03

Suggested Citation

Pi, Daniel, Meta-Rational Choice (August 4, 2018). Available at SSRN:

Daniel Pi (Contact Author)

Mitchell Hamline School of Law ( email )

875 Summit Ave
St. Paul, MN 55105-3076
United States

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