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Models of Resource-Bounded Rational Reasoning


Human beings reason about how to act.

We calculate the risks of our decisions, and evaluate different hypothetical scenarios to choose among several potential courses of action. When done properly, human reasoning is rational. It is not ideally rational because it is constrained by time, memory, and computational resources. Rather, we are boundedly rational creatures who can tease out some, but not all the possible consequences of our actions and deliberations.

Philosophical modelling so far

So far, philosophers have mainly focused on epistemic models of ideally rational agents and expressed hope that these models can be generalized or tweaked to apply to non-ideally, boundedly rational agents.

This research project will critically examine whether the dominant models of ideally rational agents in philosophy indeed can be generalized or tweaked in this way.

A new approach 

Furthermore, the research project will develop a new conceptual and formal framework for how boundedly rational agents ought to reason.

The main research question guiding the project is:
How can we develop models of non-ideally rational agents who only have bounded cognitive and computational resources available for rational reasoning?

In addressing this question, the research project can not only help evaluate how the dominant philosophical models of rational agency fare when we switch the focus to boundedly rational agency, but also help illuminate in a rigorous way core aspects of the kind of reasoning that ordinary people base and justify their decisions and actions on.


About the research project

August 2013 - August 2016.

The Danish Research Council for Culture and Communication (FKK).

Grant recipient
Jens Christian Krarup Bjerring.

Research programme affiliation
Part of Philosophy and Intellectual History at the School of Culture and Society, Faculty of Arts, Aarhus University.