Journal of Evolutionary Economics

, Volume 23, Issue 1, pp 39–60

The impossibility of rational consumer choice

A problem and its solution
  • Jakob Kapeller
  • Bernhard Schütz
  • Stefan Steinerberger
Regular Article

DOI: 10.1007/s00191-012-0268-2

Cite this article as:
Kapeller, J., Schütz, B. & Steinerberger, S. J Evol Econ (2013) 23: 39. doi:10.1007/s00191-012-0268-2


In this paper we show that a rational consumer choice along the lines traditionally suggested might lead to paradoxical results if one considers multidimensional goods, which incorporate a series of incommensurable aspects. Thereby, we explore the similarity between the resulting paradox and Kenneth Arrow’s well known Impossibility Theorem. Based on these considerations we suggest a solution for the former problem along the lines of Herbert Simon and Amos Tversky, which might—if driven to its extreme—even provide a unique and arguably rational solution for consumer choice among multidimensional goods. Eventually, we argue that the resulting framework poses a potentially useful starting point for further developing an evolutionary theory of consumer choice.


Demand Consumption Rationality Choice Evolutionary economics 

JEL Classification

B52 D01 D11 D71 

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jakob Kapeller
    • 1
  • Bernhard Schütz
    • 2
  • Stefan Steinerberger
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of Philosophy and Theory of ScienceUniversity of LinzLinzAustria
  2. 2.Department of EconomicsUniversity of LinzLinzAustria
  3. 3.Mathematical InstituteUniversity of BonnBonnGermany

Personalised recommendations