English   Danish

2019/2020  BA-BFILV1146U  The Standards of Good Decision-Making

English Title
The Standards of Good Decision-Making

Course information

Language English
Course ECTS 7.5 ECTS
Type Elective
Level Bachelor
Duration One Semester
Start time of the course Autumn
Timetable Course schedule will be posted at calendar.cbs.dk
Study board
Study Board for BSc/MSc in Business Administration and Philosophy, BSC
Course coordinator
  • Johan Gersel - Department of Management, Politics and Philosophy (MPP)
  • Morten Sørensen Thaning - Department of Management, Politics and Philosophy (MPP)
Main academic disciplines
  • Philosophy and ethics
  • Organisation
  • Economics
Teaching methods
  • Blended learning
Last updated on 15-02-2019

Relevant links

Learning objectives
At the end of the course, students are expected to:
  • be able to present the basic assumptions about human rational deliberation and action which ground the economic paradigm of rationality.
  • be able to critically evaluate these assumptions in light of contemporary philosophical discussions of rationality.
  • display an appreciation of how meta-argumentative aspects, such as burden of proof, affect the argumentative strength of the typical defences of various views of human rationality.
  • be able to analyse the consequences it has for economic theory and corporate strategy if the classical view of rationality is rejected or developed in light the alternative theories encountered.
  • be able to develop arguments that defend or challenge a given view of rationality against current objections by use of stringent argumentation
The Standards of Good Decision-Making:
Exam ECTS 7,5
Examination form Oral exam based on written product

In order to participate in the oral exam, the written product must be handed in before the oral exam; by the set deadline. The grade is based on an overall assessment of the written product and the individual oral performance.
Individual or group exam Individual exam
Size of written product Max. 5 pages
Assignment type Synopsis
Written product to be submitted on specified date and time.
30 min. per student, including examiners' discussion of grade, and informing plus explaining the grade
Grading scale 7-point grading scale
Examiner(s) Internal examiner and second internal examiner
Exam period Winter
Make-up exam/re-exam Oral Exam
Duration: 30 min. per student, including examiners' discussion of grade, and informing plus explaining the grade
Preparation time: No preparation
Examiner(s): If it is an internal examination, there will be a second internal examiner at the re-exam. If it is an external examination, there will be an external examiner.
Course content, structure and pedagogical approach


A central goal of actions within any business, institution, or corporation is that actions ought to be exemplary of good decision making. The aim of this course is to grant the student a better and critically informed understanding of what constitutes good-decision-making.

The course will begin by establishing and discussing the idea that the standards of good decision making can be investigated in terms of conceptions of rationality.  

A dominant paradigm of good decision making within the context of business and organizations is the economic conception of rationality as it figures in both classical economic theory as well as contemporary rational choice theory (including decision theory, game theory and social choice theory). The first main part of the course will examine the foundations of the economic paradigm of decision-making in relation to prominent theories from both the classical tradition and a contemporary context. 

Subsequently, the economic paradigm of decision-making will be challenged through the presentation of a series of competing philosophical views of rational human descision making.

Lastly, it will be evaluated how adopting a competing view of rational human decision-making alters the standards of rationality, in light of which we evaluate the decision-making of individual economic agents, business leaders as well as organisations and institutions. 

Description of the teaching methods
The class teaching will consist of a combination of lectures and in class discussion. Students will be expected to have read the text ahead of class, and to have either understood the argument of the text or be aware which elements they find most challenging. It will be expected that students write a brief email ahead of each class indicating which sections they find most troubling. The lecture will then begin with a detailed presentation of the most troubling parts, and then move on to a more general presentation of the wider impact and motivation behind the discussed theory.
The last part of each class will be focused on general discussion of the issue at hand.
Student participation will be further facilitated with the formation of study groups. Each group will be responsible for an in-class presentation of a specific view of rational human decision making and for presenting the impact its adoption would have on economic theorising.
Various empirical studies of human decision-making will be uploaded to Learn in video format and used as an empirical supplement to the theoretical discussion.
Feedback during the teaching period
Feedback will according to our mode of teaching (see above) take two forms :
1) Continuous dialogical feedback
2) Specific feedback on in-class student presentations

Student workload
Class participation 30 hours
Thorough text-reading and watching empirical case studies 90 hours
Discussion with fellow students in preparation for class 38 hours
Preparing in class-presentation 12 hours
Writing synopsis 36 hours
Expected literature
  • Herbert Simon (1979):  'Rational Decision Making in Business Organizations', The American Economic Review, Vol. 69, No. 4 (Sep., 1979), pp. 493-513.
  • Herbert Simon (1965) 'The logic of rational decision', The British Journal for the Philosophy of Science, Vol. 16, No. 63 (Nov., 1965), pp. 169-186

  • Becker,G. (1962):‘Irrational Behaviour and Economic Theory’, The Journal of Political Economy, 70(1):1-13.

  • Becker, G.  S. (1996): Accounting for Tastes, Harvard University Press, Cambridge, MA.

  • Promintent texts from contemporary decision theory, game theory and/or social choice theory
  • Bernard Williams 1980, ‘Internal and External Reasons’ in his Moral Luck, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  • Christine Korsgaard 1986, ‘Skepticism about Practical Reasons’, The Journal of Philosophy 83 (1): 5-25.
  • Jonathan Dancy 2002: ‘Reasons for Action’ and ‘Reasons and Desires’, chapters 1&2 from his Practical Reality, Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  • T.M. Scanlon 2004, ‘Reasons: A Puzzling Duality’ in R.J. Wallace, P. Pettit, S. Scheffler, M. Smith (eds.), Reason and Value: Themes from the Moral Philosophy of Joseph Raz, Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  • John Broome 1999, ‘Rational Requirement’ in Ratio 12 (4): 398-419.
  • Niko Kolodny 2005, ‘Why Be Rational?’ in Mind 114 (455): 509-563.
  • Jennifer Hornsby 2008, ‘A Disjunctive Conception of Acting for Reasons’ in A. Haddock and F. MacPherson (eds.), Disjunctivism, Oxford: Oxford University Press, pp. 244-261.
Last updated on 15-02-2019