Shaun Gallagher Lillian and Morrie Moss Professor of Excellence, University of Memphis

Enactive problem solving and the pragmatic application of bounded rationality

What can enactive approaches to cognition contribute to the science of economics? Among other things, one contribution is to provide a more embodied conception of decision making and problem solving. I propose to rethink Herbert Simon’s notion of bounded rationality from an enactive perspective, with some help from John Dewey’s pragmatism. I suggest that the notion of bounded rationality lies on a somewhat uneven line that connects pragmatism and enactivism. I set aside justifiable concerns about whether Simon can be considered a pragmatist, and I focus directly on bounded rationality as informing an approach to embodied-enactive problem solving that integrates Dewey’s notion of problematic situation and Simon’s notion of problem space. Problem solving on this account is not primarily an internal reflective deliberation; it rather involves action and recursive feedback in an affordance space.