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Theories and Tropes: A Reply to Posner and Kelman (with Cass R. Susntein and Richard Thaler), 50 Stanford Law Review 1593 (1998)


We are grateful to Richard Posner and Mark Kelman for their detailed comments on our article. Their objections come from opposite directions. Judge Posner complains that behavioral economics is not a "theory" and is in- deed "antitheoretical"'; he invokes "evolutionary considerations" in the interest of providing a unitary account of both rational and "quasi rational" behavior, as well as bounded self-interest. Posner also thinks that rational choice theory can handle many of the problems we describe. By contrast, Professor Kelman wishes that we were less theoretical. Favoring "open- textured interpretivism," he thinks that behavioral economics is in a kind of "dance" with rational choice theory, and that both dancers suffer from "hubris." He suggests that both approaches are mere "interpretive tropes," providing two of many possible understandings of the "inexorably ambiguous" data.

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