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date: 20 October 2021

Abstract and Keywords

Although Herbert Simon and Allen Newell studied problem-solving by experts as well as nonexperts, political scientists generally understand “bounded rationality” to refer primarily to cognitive constraints: how we fall short of completely rational decision-making. This incomplete understanding deprives us of an enormously useful intellectual legacy, built not only by Newell and Simon but also by a wide array of cognitive scientists who have explored how humans have collectively solved very difficult problems such as eliminating smallpox or designing nuclear submarines. This chapter surveys this richer understanding of bounded rationality. Cognitive capacities receive as much attention as cognitive constraints. The chapter reports work on how cultural storehouses of knowledge and certain organizational arrangements amplify our cognitive capacities in both the short and the long run. Finally, it extracts from the literature a set of thematically related propositions that are building blocks for constructing macro-theories of politics out of cognitively realistic micro-premises.

Keywords: Organization, evolution, institution, bounded rationality, cognition, skill, expertise

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