The right thinks people are rational decision makers
one's definition of "rational" has a heavy bearing on how true this is.
i think that people pretty much always are (as i understand the term), except in cases such as addiction, coercion, insanity, senility, very young childhood, being under the influence of something that alters your perceptions like an hallucinogenic, etc.
not trying to hijack the thread, but the assumption of rationality is as you say an important one. so its exact meaning is important, if utilitarianism influences your views. from what i've seen of your posts buddhavista, i suspect it does.
in the context of the above quote, it just means that people simply make their choices based on their preferences, balancing out short & long-term costs & benefits, even if only at some barely-conscious-of-it level. it does not make any value judgment on individuals' preferences.
ETA- i think this definition makes it a quite reasonable assumption in most cases.
This post was edited on 1/3 at 10:48 am