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Rational Choice and the Rational Actor

Rational choice applies the tools of economics to the study of politics and law. Rational choice is an umbrella term that includes public choice or interest group theory (the study of group influence on political institutions), social choice (the study of the implications of collective intransitivity for group decision making), and game theory (the study of how strategy affects outcomes in constructed interactive games). While the boundaries between these disciplines have become porous as political scientists and legal scholars crib their complementary methodologies, public choice—the study of politics using the tools of economics—has proved particularly influential in the study of law and legal institutions.

The primary assumption underlying public choice, as in neoclassical economics, is individual rationality. Within economics, rationality has two distinct yet related components. ...

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