Riffing on a Footnote

Joe Miller writes in a footnote:

I’d be willing to bet that somebody is going to make the argument that everyone always behaves rationally. There will be some reference to the fact that individuals have their own sets of preferences and to the fact that they always act according to their own personal orderings of those preferences and thus always act rationally.

No bet. I am about to do it, kinda, sorta. First, how exactly do you define rationality and then how do you measure it? What is the standard? Is a young child trading a dime for a nickel being irrational? Second, could a better description stand in place? Perhaps we could say the child has imperfect knowledge instead. The tradition of Austrian economics uses "rational" in a way that is a tautology, is very close to what is described in the quote, and meant more to differentiate against instinctual behavior. The more normal usage of "rational" is imprecise enough to be pretty much worthless.

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