Rationality and Choice

This information is for the 2022/23 session.

Teacher responsible

Prof Richard Bradley LAK2.03


This course is available on the BSc in Philosophy, Politics and Economics. This course is available with permission as an outside option to students on other programmes where regulations permit. This course is not available to General Course students.


Formal Methods of Philosophical Argumentation (PH104) or Intermediate Logic (PH112) 

Microeconomic Principles I (EC201), Microeconomic Principles II (EC202) or Microeconomics II (EC2A3)

Course content

This course introduces the three main components of rational choice theory: individual decision theory (including probability theory), game theory and social choice theory. Students will become familiar with the kinds of problems and solution techniques (the logical/mathematical machinery) that characterise these areas of rational choice. The primary aim of the course, however, is to philosophically examine the theories in question. To this end we examine the basic assumptions underlying the dominant decision and social  choice models, and how these assumptions relate  to the role(s) these models are supposed to play in various areas of philosophy (e.g. philosophy of science and ethics) and in the social sciences.


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

Formative coursework

Students will be expected to produce 2 essays and 2 problem sets in the MT and LT.

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, Ken Binmore, Game Theory: A Very Short Introduction


Exam (40%, duration: 2 hours) in the summer exam period.
Coursework (30%) in the MT.
Coursework (30%) in the LT.

The final exam will contain short questions of a technical nature. 

Summative coursework will consist of a combination of essays and exercises.

Key facts

Department: Philosophy, Logic and Scientific Method

Total students 2021/22: 2

Average class size 2021/22: 2

Capped 2021/22: No

Value: One Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

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.

Personal development skills

  • Self-management
  • Problem solving
  • Communication
  • Application of numeracy skills
  • Specialist skills