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Rational Choice Theory and Irrational Decisions - Essay Example

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Rational Choice Theory and Irrational Decisions

The last decades have been characterized by the widely spread opinion, that any political behavior, especially in the area of international relations can be explained on the basis of the rational choice. On the contrary, certain political scientists have also argued as for the relevance and universality of the present theory in terms of international political decisions. The core of the rational choice approach is that 'people always try to maximize their interests', (Ferejohn & Satz, 1996); in regional politics this maximization may be connected with the desire of people to vote for this or that candidate, while at the international level the rational choice depends on what profits each state will gain as a result of this or that political decision. Having its roots in the economic sciences, rational choice theory is usually based on the cost-benefit calculations.
Politics as a whole appears to be the area of the irrational choices, which can hardly be explained by the rational choice theories; this is why to prove this assumption we have to look closer at the examples of such cases with their relation to the theory.
Ian Shapiro has called the rational choice theory 'a model that pretends to explain everything'. ...
f the belief, that rational choice theory was the basis for the explanation of international political processes, has probably taken place during the falling of communist regime across Europe. The prominent political scientists have failed to explain the reasons and the grounds of such collapse. (Snidal, 2002) This was one of the most prominent irrational actions, which took place during the world political history and science. This was also the time, through which the post-behaviorists understood there were other means of explaining international political relations.
In relation to the rational choice theory, the question appears as for the assumption, that this theory looks at the participants of the political processes as actors, who have their purpose and goal, and thus act on the rational basis; (Bates, 1997) but what about the Muslim Shahids, who commit suicides in the Middle East looking for some unknown and unreasonable idea If the rational choice is the analysis of costs and benefits of certain political actions, how can this theory explain these actions, which certainly influence the general international situation In this behavior only the one part of this theory is seen - the costs; the benefits are absolutely absent at the first glance, or they are vague and invisible for the analyst. While the subject of the suicide supposes such act to be the means of displaying his (her) political beliefs, such behavior is usually taken as absolutely irrational, leading to no profits and causing international conflicts. The rational choice theory here is proved to be unable of explaining these behaviors and choices through its statements. On the other hand, the actions of Shahids may be taken as rational on the basis of the assumption, that their behavior is not ...Show more


The present paper is devoted to the discussion of the rational choice theories as applied to the political science and international relations in particular. The aim of the work is to consider the assumption, that political science and international relations display a wide range of irrational decisions, which cannot be explained by the rational choice theory…
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Rational Choice Theory and Irrational Decisions essay example
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