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In defence of revealed preference theory

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  28 May 2020

Johanna Thoma*
Department of Philosophy, Logic and Scientific Method, London School of Economics and Political Science, Houghton Street, LondonWC2A 2AE, UK


This paper defends revealed preference theory against a pervasive line of criticism, according to which revealed preference methodology relies on appealing to some mental states, in particular an agent’s beliefs, rendering the project incoherent or unmotivated. I argue that all that is established by these arguments is that revealed preference theorists must accept a limited mentalism in their account of the options an agent should be modelled as choosing between. This is consistent both with an essentially behavioural interpretation of preference and with standard revealed preference methodology. And it does not undermine the core motivations of revealed preference theory.

© The Author(s), 2020. Published by Cambridge University Press

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