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Coping Rationally with Lapses from Rationality

Thomas Schelling

Eastern Economic Journal, 1996, vol. 22, issue 3, 251-269

Abstract: People have difficulty governing certain of their own behaviors, and employ strategies to constrain future choices. These efforts can be interpreted as rational attempts to cope with some foreseeable lapse from full rationality. The philosophy literature and a small amount of recent economics literature concentrate on temptations - addictions, eating problems, sexual incontinence. Just what occurs during a "lapse" is often hard to describe, and whether succumbing should be considered rational or not is in dispute. Here, a number of conditions and behaviors are introduced for which a judgment about "irrationality" will be less problematic. They are important in their own right, and also help to enlarge the class in which the more notorious addictive and compulsive behaviors can be fitted. The latter may then be seen as members of a family not all of whose members are so perplexing.

Keywords: Rationality (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: D11 D91 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 1996
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Eastern Economic Journal is currently edited by Cynthia A. Bansak, St. Lawrence University and Allan A. Zebedee, Clarkson University

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Handle: RePEc:eej:eeconj:v:22:y:1996:i:3:p:251-269