Inconsistency is not pathological: a pragmatic perspective

Mario J. Rizzo

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    Both behavioral and standard neoclassical economists place a heavy emphasis on the consistency of preferences. In particular, transitive preferences are considered a desideratum. This paper attempts to show that consistency at the level of individual choice may be pragmatically irrelevant. Consistently following an environmentally adapted rule can result in intransitive preferences without negative consequences for individual or social goals. I give three examples of this. Social scientists should look at intransitivity of choices as a challenge to offer better explanations rather than as a normative defect.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Pages (from-to)77-85
    Number of pages9
    JournalMind and Society
    Issue number1
    StatePublished - Jun 1 2019


    • Adaptation
    • Intransitivity
    • Rationality
    • Rules

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Social Psychology
    • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
    • Philosophy
    • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)
    • Economics, Econometrics and Finance (miscellaneous)


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