Embodied bounded rationality

Authored by: Vittorio Gallese , Antonio Mastrogiorgio , Enrico Petracca , Riccardo Viale

Routledge Handbook of Bounded Rationality

Print publication date:  October  2020
Online publication date:  October  2020

Print ISBN: 9781138999381
eBook ISBN: 9781315658353
Adobe ISBN:


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There is little doubt that one of Simon’s key contributions throughout his scientific career––if not the main one––was rooting the notion of bounded rationality in cognitive psychology (Simon, 1976). He called his notion of bounded rationality in the cognitive psychology realm “cognitivism” (Haugeland, 1978), an approach, also known as the “information-processing” approach, which he contributed to affirming together with his colleague Allen Newell, starting in the mid-1950s. According to cognitivism, cognition works through the internal (i.e. mental) manipulation of representations of the external environment accomplished through referential “symbols” (e.g., Newell & Simon, 1972). Connecting Simon’s theory of cognition to his theory of rationality is the notion that cognition works in a way that is necessary and sufficient for intelligent behavior (what is known as the “physical symbol system hypothesis,” see Newell & Simon, 1976). The idea that results from integrating Simon’s view of cognition with his view of bounded rationality is that rationality is a “process and product of thought” (Simon, 1978), in which the internal bounds of reason (Simon, 1955) adapt to the external bounds of the environment (Simon, 1956) in a disembodied fashion.

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