Bounded Rationality

From CognitiveScience. Humans can't be completely rational because complete rationality would require infinite perception, which is impossible since our brains must fit in our little heads. This puts a theoretical limit on the issue, but when you think of how small our heads really are, then you start to realize how people can be so silly sometimes. This is not the same thing as complete irrationality, because we do have brains after all.

Defined (in a more rational way :-) by HerbertSimon. See also GoodEnough.


It seems to me that not having all the facts all the time doesn't make one irrational, but simply imperfect. A thought process that is based on reason and logic, and applied to a maximal (though still incomplete) set of facts, is still rational, isn't it? It's the result that's less than perfect. (Although this may just be ViolentAgreement with the above; I'm not familiar with HerbertSimon's work.) -- MikeSmith

You're in ViolentAgreement if you also believe that humans are not really irrational, just imperfect. Of course, the denial that humans are irrational is irrational.

Well, that depends on how you want to read that - certainly some humans are less frequently rational than others, but surely there are at least some humans who are rational at least most of the time. On the other hand, we are all limited in our available knowledge. -- MikeSmith

We aren't limited by the physical limits of our head or brain, but by the limits of our consciousness. These limits are not intrinsic, but made by ourselves. All knowledge in the universe is accessible by everyone - in principle. See UnboundedConsciousness

I think the laws of physics will trump you there.

On the other hand, we could be speaking in terms of limiting reagents in a system. We are much more limited by what we choose to explore and demystify than by what it is possible to know. Furthermore, BellsTheorem and quantum experiments have statistically shown that there is no reality apart from its observation, although this could be considered a misapplication of quantum theory...


See also AssumeIgnoranceNotMalice, HumansAsMaxLikelihoodEstimators?

CategoryPsychology

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