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Minimalist or Rational Egoism

In both fields, the postulate has been criticized and defended on a range of empirical and philosophical grounds. For example, in political science, the assumption of rational egoism gives rise to the paradox of voting – given the low probability of being decisive, relative to the personal benefit from a change in the outcome, voting in elections is not rational unless the number of electors is very small. Supporters of rational egoism, however, might point out that this argument is not sound because cultural influences might incentivize voting. Additionally, Scott Aaronson notes that the likelihood of one vote being decisive is on the order of the square root of the number of voters, due to thecentral limit theorem. However, the utility of a vote could be expected to scale linearly with the number of voters, implying that one should vote because its importance outweighs the chance that it will make a differenceWhen working with certain economic or sociological models, we may frequently assume that people will act in such a way as to promote their own interests. This is not a normative claim and usually not even a descriptive claim. Instead it is a minimalist assumption used for certain calculations. If we assume only self-interest on the part of all agents, we can determine certain extreme-case (e.g., maxi-mim) outcomes for the model. Implicit in this assumption, although not always stated, is the idea that altruistic behavior on the part of the agents, although not presupposed, would yield outcomes at least as good and probably better.
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