24.222 | Spring 2008 | Undergraduate

Decisions, Games, and Rational Choice



The following book will provide the main framework for the class:

Resnik, Michael. Choices: An Introduction to Decision Theory. Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota Press, 1987. ISBN: 9780816614400.

This will be supplemented with material that will be made available, as we go, including readings from five other books:

Jeffrey, Richard. The Logic of Decision. 2nd ed. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press, 1990. ISBN: 9780226395821.

Schelling, Thomas. The Strategy of Conflict. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2008. ISBN: 9780674840317.

Joyce, James M. The Foundations of Causal Decision Theory. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1999. ISBN: 9780521641647.

Leyton-Brown, Kevin, and Yoav Shoham. Essentials of Game Theory: A Concise, Multidisciplinary Introduction. San Rafael, CA: Morgan and Claypool Publishers, 2008. ISBN: 9781598295931.

Buy at MIT Press Sen, Amartya K. Choice, Welfare, and Measurement. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1982. ISBN: 9780262192149.


1 Introduction: What is rationality?  
I. Individual decision theory
2-10 Preference, ignorance and risk Resnik, chapters 1-3
Probability – subjective and objective Jeffrey, chapters 1-5
Utility and value

Resnik, chapter 4

Sen, Amartya K. “Rational Fools: A Critique of the Behavioural Foundations of Economic Theory.” Philosophy and Public Affairs 6, no. 4 (Summer 1977): 317-344. Reprinted as chapter 4 in:

Buy at MIT Press Sen, Amartya K. Choice, Welfare, and Measurement. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1982. ISBN: 9780262192149.

Causal decision theory

Lewis, David. “Causal Decision Theory.” Australasian Journal of Philosophy 59, no. 1 (March 1981): 5-30.

For those who want to explore causal decision theory in more depth, see Joyce, especially chapters 2-5.

II. Game theory
11-19 The basic framework

Resnik, chapter 5

Notes on games and models (PDF)

Nash Equilibrium and other solution concepts Leyton-Brown and Shoham, chapters 1-5
Game theory and individual decision theory  
Coordination games, bargaining and negotiation Schelling, chapters 4-5
III. Theory of collective choice
20-26 Defining social value in terms of individual value Resnik, chapter 6
Arrow’s theorem, and other impossibility results

Sen, Amartya K. “Rationality and Social Choice.” The American Economic Review 85, no. 1 (March 1995): 1-24.

Gibbard, Allan. “Manipulation of Voting Schemes: A General Result.” Econometrica 41, no. 4 (July 1973): 587-601.

Interpersonal comparisons of utility Sen, chapter 12

Course Info

As Taught In
Spring 2008
Learning Resource Types
Problem Sets
Written Assignments