Axiomatic and ecological rationality: choosing costs and benefits

  • Patricia Rich University of Bristol


One important purpose of rationality research is to help individuals improve. There are two main approaches to the task of rendering evaluations of rationality that support guidance: the axiomatic approach evaluates the coherence of behavior according to axiomatic criteria, while ecological rationality evaluates processes according to their expected per- formance. The first part of the paper considers arguments against the axiomatic and ecological approaches and concludes that neither approach is unserviceable; in particular, each has the flexibility to accept important insights from the other. The second part of the paper characterizes each approach according to the profile of costs and benefits that it accepts, and shows that combining the two approaches in a particular way yields a new approach with a superior cost-benefit profile. This 'hybrid approach' uses axiomatic rationality criteria to evaluate processes that agents might use.

Author Biography

Patricia Rich, University of Bristol

Patricia Rich is a postdoctoral researcher in philosophy, currently at the University of Bristol and soon to be at the University of Hamburg. Her main research areas are epistemology and game and decision theory, with a focus on rationality. In addition to the present topic, she has written on belief revision in perfect information games and reputation in signaling games.

How to Cite
RICH, Patricia. Axiomatic and ecological rationality: choosing costs and benefits. Erasmus Journal for Philosophy and Economics, [S.l.], v. 9, n. 2, p. 90-122, dec. 2016. ISSN 1876-9098. Available at: <>. Date accessed: 28 apr. 2017. doi: