Argumenta – Journal of Analytic Philosophy

Fiction, Imagination, and Normative Rationality [Special Issue]

Topics: Epistemology, Philosophy of science, Theoretical philosophy
Keywords: Dutch Book., imagination, Narratives, normativity, rationality


Rationality is a cornerstone of economics. The properties defining rationality are embodied by the Rational Agent, whose actions are prescriptive for economic agents. However, the Rational Agent is a fictional character: so why should real agents act like it? The Rational Agent takes its normative force from the arguments in support of the properties it embodies. In this paper, I explore the grounds for the normative force of the Rational Agent by looking at one of them. I explain the compelling pull of the famous Dutch Book argument using tools from narratology. I contend that the argument presents a branching narrative structure that allows the comparison of outcomes. Thus, the agent can see that one option serves her economic desires better than the other, and this is the specific way in which it provides normative support to the rational agent. Since the comparison of outcomes requires the use of imagination, I conclude the paper drawing some implications of my analysis for a connection between imagination and action.

There is a fictional character haunting economics: the Rational Agent. Microeconomic models base their conclusions on assumptions about what constitutes rational economic agency. These assumptions are embodied by…


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