Procedural Rationality and Institutions: The Production of Norms by Means of Norms

Research paper by Maurizio Mistri

Indexed on: 01 Dec '03Published on: 01 Dec '03Published in: Constitutional Political Economy


This paper deals with a cognitivist approach to the problem of how social and economic institutions are formed. The economic framework I use is Simon's model of procedural rationality, integrating a cognitivist approach into a game structure. In game theory norms are seen as conventions, but not all institutions can be explained by game theory models. In cognition-based approaches, the creation and maintenance of institutions is the outcome of a search for satisficing norms. According to Simon and Newell (1972), agents faced with problems to solve visualise a problem as an area of potential situations to examine in order to establish analogical problem structures. In my approach, a norm can be defined within a system of norms that form in a historical-evolutionary dimension, suggesting a path in norm-forming processes.