"Can you direct me to the railway station?" asks the stranger. "Certainly," saysthe local, pointing, in the opposite direction, towards the post office, "and would you post this letter for me on your way?" "Certainly," says the stranger,resolving to open it to see if it contains anything worth stealing.
(McQuaig,2001)This quote, posed from Amartya Sen in the book ‘All you can Eat’ byLinda McQuaig, is one that shows the absurdity of the rational choice. Rationalchoice is the idea that all behaviour is fundamentally rational in character.People calculate the likely costs and benefits of any action before deciding whatto do. They only act from the principle of self-interest and egoism, and not withthe idea of what is best for others, the whole society or the environment. Thelocal in the quote is an example of a man fully acting out of self-interest. He isdeceiving the stranger and tries to steal his goods, without considering helpingthe stranger. In the real world, if someone asks you to the railway station, youwill never, or hardly ever, get sent to the post-office. You will not be deceivedbecause a local is trying to steal your things. Therefore rational choice and thewhole theory that is using rational choice to explain economic or socialbehaviour is fundamentally wrong.Sen is a scientist, who criticises rational choice behaviour in economicmodels. In this paper an analysis is made of a well-known paper presented bySen in 1977: “
Rational Fools, a critique of the behavioural foundations of economic theory
”. This is not the only paper Sen wrote about Rational Choice.“Rationality and Morality: A Reply”, “Rationality, Interest and Identity” and“The Formulation of Rational Choice” are other papers discussing the samesubject.Sen, not only criticizes theories of rational choice, he writes on severalsubjects, such as the relations, consequences and solutions of food problems,famines and hunger, education and manpower planning. Even the Indianeconomy is analysed and criticized by him. Crown on the work of Sen was theNobel-price, which he received in 1998 for his work on Welfare economics.Welfare economics seeks to evaluate economic policies in terms of their effectson the well being of the community
.The main question of this paper is: “What are rational fools and what istheir relation to contemporary social geography?” To answer this question, firsta summary is given about the life and works of Amartya Sen. Secondly, therewill be an analysis of the behavioural decision theory, an approach regardingeconomic behaviour, which is explained in geographical and non-geographicaltheories. This part will include theories like the rational choice theory. Third,important approaches of the rational choice theory will be analysed. In this partSen’s critique on rational choice theory, exposed by him in “Rational Fools, acritique on the behavioural foundations of economic theory”, will be explored.The forth part of this paper presents some practical examples of the use of rational choice behaviour in social geography. The last part gives a summary
http://www.britannica.com/eb/article-9126420/Amartya-Sen retrieved on October 10