Rational choice as a toolbox for the economist

An interview with Itzhak Gilboa


  • Catherine Herfeld Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München, Germany




Itzhak Gilboa, interview, rational choice, economics, methodology, assumptions, neuroeconomics, empirical economics


Itzhak Gilboa (Tel Aviv, 1963) is currently professor of economics at the Eitan Berglas School of Economics at Tel-Aviv University and professor of economics and decision sciences at the Hautes Études Commerciales (HEC) in Paris. He earned undergraduate degrees in mathematics and in economics at Tel Aviv University, where he also obtained his MA and PhD in economics under the supervision of David Schmeidler. Before joining Tel Aviv University in 2004 and the HEC in 2008, Gilboa taught at the J. L. Kellogg Graduate School of Management at Northwestern University, the University of Pennsylvania, and Boston University.

Gilboa’s main area of interest is decision-making under uncertainty, focusing on the definition of probability, notions of rationality, non-Bayesian decision models, and related issues. He has published broadly in areas such as decision and game theory, microeconomics, philosophy, social choice theory, and applied mathematics. He has written over 90 articles in these fields. Gilboa has furthermore written a textbook entitled Rational choice (Gilboa 2010a), in which he lays out what he takes to be the main toolbox for studying and improving human decision-making. Additional books include A theory of case-based decisions (Gilboa and Schmeidler 2001), Theory of decision under uncertainty (Gilboa 2009), Making better decisions (Gilboa 2010b), and Case-based predictions (Gilboa and Schmeidler 2012).

Professor Gilboa was interviewed by Catherine Herfeld at the department of economics of the University of Mainz (Germany) on July 13, 2013. In this interview, Gilboa lays out his perspective on the nature and purpose of the rational choice paradigm, discussing it in the context of recent philosophical questions about the advantages of axiomatization and its relation to empirical research, the usefulness of unrealistic assumptions, the future of neuroeconomics, the status of economics as a science, and his view of truth.

Author Biography

Catherine Herfeld, Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München, Germany

Catherine Herfeld is currently a postdoctoral fellow at the Munich Center for Mathematical Philosophy, Germany. Before coming to Munich, she was a research fellow at the Center for the History of Political Economy (Duke University), while finishing her PhD at Witten/Herdecke University in the history and philosophy of economics. This interview is part of a larger project entitled ‘Conversations on rational choice theory’, which aims at critically discussing the different manifestations of rational choice theory and the ways in which they have been used in philosophy and economics.




How to Cite

Herfeld, C. (2014). Rational choice as a toolbox for the economist: An interview with Itzhak Gilboa. Erasmus Journal for Philosophy and Economics, 7(2), 116–141. https://doi.org/10.23941/ejpe.v7i2.176