Two paradoxes of bounded rationality

  • David Thorstad orcid logo (University of Oxford)


This is an accepted article with a DOI pre-assigned that is not yet published.

My aim in this paper is to develop a unified solution to two paradoxes of bounded rationality. The first is the regress problem that incorporating cognitive bounds into models of rational decisionmaking generates a regress of higher-order decision problems. The second is the problem of rational irrationality: it sometimes seems rational for bounded agents to act irrationally on the basis of rational deliberation. I review two strategies which have been brought to bear on these problems: the way of weakening which responds by weakening rational norms, and the way of indirection which responds by letting the rationality of behavior be determined by the rationality of the deliberative processes which produced it. Then I propose and defend a third way to confront the paradoxes: the way of level separation.

Keywords: Bounded rationality, procedural rationality, maximization, satisficing, global consequentialism

Accepted on
05 May 2022
Peer Reviewed