Rationality and Choice

This information is for the 2021/22 session.

Teacher responsible

Prof Richard Bradley


This course is available on the MSc in Economics and Philosophy, MSc in Philosophy and Public Policy, MSc in Philosophy of Science and MSc in Philosophy of the Social Sciences. This course is available as an outside option to students on other programmes where regulations permit.


Students taking this course should have familiarity with basic propositional logic and some previous exposure to rational choice theory. 

Course content

The course examines the theory of rationality and rational decision making. It is in two parts (i) Probability and Decision: Probabilistic thinking, different interpretations of probability, decision making under risk, ignorance and uncertainty, the measurement of belief and desire, paradoxes of expected utility theory. (ii) Game Theory and Social Choice: Non-cooperative game theory; Solution concepts; evolutionary game theory; May's theorem and arguments for majority rule; Arrow's Theorem; the Gibbard-Satterthwaite theorem; interpersonal comparability and Utilitarianism; the theory of judgement aggregation.


15 hours of lectures and 10 hours of seminars in the MT. 15 hours of lectures and 10 hours of seminars in the LT.

Formative coursework

Students will submit two pieces of written work each term and/or complete a number of exercises.

Indicative reading

Richard Jeffrey, The Logic of Decision, Michael Resnik, Choices: an introduction to decision theory, Martin Peterson An Introduction to Decision Theory, Amartya Sen Collective Choice and Social Welfare, Duncan Luce and Howard Raiffa Games and Decisions, Wulf Gaertner A Primer in Social Choice Theory, K. Binmore, Game Theory: A Very Short Introduction


Exam (50%, duration: 3 hours) in the summer exam period.
Coursework (20%) in the MT.
Coursework (20%) in the LT.
Class participation (10%) in the MT and LT.

Course selection videos

Some departments have produced short videos to introduce their courses. Please refer to the course selection videos index page for further information.

Important information in response to COVID-19

Please note that during 2021/22 academic year some variation to teaching and learning activities may be required to respond to changes in public health advice and/or to account for the differing needs of students in attendance on campus and those who might be studying online. For example, this may involve changes to the mode of teaching delivery and/or the format or weighting of assessments. Changes will only be made if required and students will be notified about any changes to teaching or assessment plans at the earliest opportunity.

Key facts

Department: Philosophy, Logic and Scientific Method

Total students 2020/21: 28

Average class size 2020/21: 12

Controlled access 2020/21: Yes

Value: One Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information