Rationality and Choice

This information is for the 2023/24 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 AT. 15 hours of lectures and 10 hours of seminars in the WT.

Formative coursework

Students will submit coursework each term, consisting of both short essays and 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 (40%, duration: 2 hours) in the spring exam period.
Essay (30%) in the AT.
Essay (30%) in the WT.

The final 2 hour exam will consist of short questions, mainly of a technical nature but including short 'define and explain' ones.

Key facts

Department: Philosophy, Logic and Scientific Method

Total students 2022/23: 14

Average class size 2022/23: 7

Controlled access 2022/23: No

Lecture capture used 2022/23: Yes (MT & LT)

Value: One Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

Course selection videos

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