Itzhak Gilboa, a Professor at Tel-Aviv University's Eitan Berglas School of Economics and HEC, Paris, was a panelist at the inaugural University of Chicago Policy Forum, held April 25, 2019. The Forum was organized by The Macro Finance Research Program (MFR) and the Center for the Economics of Human Development (CEHD). During his visit, Gilboa met with us to discuss his research on decision theory.
He notes that decision theory is relevant to two main academic areas: economics and business. "The distinction is very much along the lines of whether you’re trying to describe behavior or you’re trying to change it," he says.
"One thing that really attracted me to the field is that it gives concrete meanings to these things by saying, well if something behaves in a certain way, you describe it this way," Gilboa says. "What I like about is it's very non metaphysical in this sense."
Gilboa also discusses the importance of theory to the field of economics. "One important message that we should be conveying is: you shouldn’t look at formal models as the be-all and end-all of theory. There is a tendency of people to mistrust theory in general."
He notes that theory can help you avoid reasoning mistakes and think in-depth about the problem you are trying to solve.
"There's room for many decision-theory models and you shouldn’t be religious about any of them," he says. "One thing we should be conveying as a field to 'humanity' is that there is a lot in formal models and analytical thinking that can be helpful, even it’s not the kind of problem that you can regulate to a computer and get the answer back. Ongoing dialogue I think is something thats very important."