God, our Commodity in Heaven: Rational Choice Theory and Religion

Regan Lance Reitsma

Social scientists in the rational choice tradition attempt to explain human behavior through an economic, free market metaphor. Rational choice theory regards each agent as approaching each choice situation as a utility maximizer, seeking to purchase the greatest possible basket of goods at the least possible price. Recently, rational choice has made its way into religious studies. Regan Lance Reitsma argues that rational choice fails in its attempt to explain religious behavior because it attributes an unduly narrow set of preferences to agents, ignores the existence of norm-governed and expressive behavior, and fails to recognize the special character of the search for religious understanding. Mr. Reitsma is Visiting Assistant Professor in Philosophy at Lynchburg College.

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Last Updated: January 22, 2004
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