John Elster's Rational Choice Theory

Topics: Ethics, Marketing, Utilitarianism, Morality, Jeremy Bentham, John Stuart Mill / Pages: 5 (1013 words) / Published: Dec 3rd, 2015
RATIONAL CHOICE THEROY -Explaining the Theory-
Rational Choice Theory (aka RCT) is defined as a “principle that assumes that individuals always make prudent and logical decisions that provide them with the greatest benefit or satisfaction and that are in their highest self-interest (Investopedia.com, 2011).” In other words, Rational Choice Theory states that people are human beings base their behavior on rational calculations, they act with rationality when making choices, and their choices are aimed at optimization of their pleasure or profit (BusinessDictionary.com n.d.).
Rational Choice Theory originated in the late eighteenth century by Cesare Beccaria whom was an Italian philosopher, criminologist, and politician (Wright, 2015). However,
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Elster believed that Rational Choice Theory was considered to be the best available theory of action, but his work tended to direct him more to discovering the limitations of this theory. Upon his research, Elster discovered that what is considered a deviant crime, could very well be considered as morally acceptable to society. Meaning that if society doesn’t find it a crime, but another society does, the two societies can differ in what one considers to be ‘rational.’ In Elster’s book Elementary Social Science from an Advanced Standpoint, Elster claims that Rational Choice Theory doesn’t have “explanations by mechanisms” because the main influential factors to social science involves topics like law, societal norms, and the irregularities found in human …show more content…
It helps a prosecuting attorney be able convict a mentally capable adult of a crime. But Rational Choice Theory has its loopholes, like the law. Rational Choice Theory cannot explain the rationality in children or the mentally handicapped, and what rationality is defined as, especially in the law or in the criminal committing the law.
--Suggestions for the Limitations--- Several Theories have been derived from Rational Choice Theory in order to help shape an understanding of the criminal mind. One Theory that stands out is the Prospect Theory. Prospect Theory helps address the cost vs benefit aspect of Rational Choice Theory. Prospect Theory states that “people value gains and losses differently and, as such, will base decisions on perceived gains rather than perceived losses (Investopedia.com, 2005).” This theory helps to assist Rational Choice Theory by factoring in how people perceive things individually and gives every person the benefit of the doubt that they

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