Substitute genes for desires and it becomes easy to see that an individual’s choice among alternative courses of action is in fact determined by a kind of voting system. If I am right, the theory of committees (or something analogous) can be applied directly to the analysis of individual choice and we should not therefore be surprised to find intransitivities or even cyclical movements in individual choices. Such an approach would, of course, mean the abandonment of the assumption, commonly made in economics, that man is a “rational utility maximizer” and that an individual’s choices are consistent, a change in viewpoint which, for my part, I would welcome.
Coase here shows that philosophically deep Chicago-Virginia School economists – even ones of an age to have been students of Hayek at the L.S.E. in the 1930s – are not necessarily befuddled by, or hostile to, the findings of behavioral economics.