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Efficient CognitionThe Evolution of Representational Decision Making$
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Armin W. Schulz

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780262037600

Published to MIT Press Scholarship Online: September 2018

DOI: 10.7551/mitpress/9780262037600.001.0001

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Specialist versus Generalist Decision Making

Specialist versus Generalist Decision Making

(p.169) 8 Specialist versus Generalist Decision Making
Efficient Cognition

Armin W. Schulz

The MIT Press

A number of scholars argue that human and animal decision making, at least to the extent that it is driven by representational mental states, should be seen to be the result of the application of a vast array of highly specialized decision rules. By contrast, other scholars argue that we should see human and animal representational decision making as the result of the application of a handful general principles—such as expected utility maximization—to a number of specific instances. This chapter shows that, using the results of chapters 5 and 6, it becomes possible to move this dispute forwards: the account of the evolution of conative representational decision making defended in chapter 6 together with the account of the evolution of cognitive representational decision making defended in chapter 5, makes clear that both sides of this dispute contain important insights, and that it is possible to put this entire dispute on a clearer and more precise foundation. Specifically, I show that differentially general decision rules are differentially adaptive in different circumstances: certain particular circumstances favor specialized decision making, and certain other circumstances favor more generalist decision making.

Keywords:   simple heuristics, rational choice theory, optimal foraging theory, optimization, satisficing, economic decision making, specialization, generalist decision making, modularity, Gigerenzer

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