Generalized utilitarianism and Harsanyi's impartial observer theorem

Grant, Simon, Kajii, Atsushi, Polak, Ben and Safra, Zvi (2010) Generalized utilitarianism and Harsanyi's impartial observer theorem. Econometrica, 78 6: 1939-1971. doi:10.3982/ECTA6712

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Author Grant, Simon
Kajii, Atsushi
Polak, Ben
Safra, Zvi
Title Generalized utilitarianism and Harsanyi's impartial observer theorem
Journal name Econometrica   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 0012-9682
1468-0262
Publication date 2010-11-01
Sub-type Article (original research)
DOI 10.3982/ECTA6712
Open Access Status Not Open Access
Volume 78
Issue 6
Start page 1939
End page 1971
Total pages 33
Place of publication Chichester, United Kingdom
Publisher Wiley-Blackwell Publishing
Collection year 2011
Language eng
Abstract Harsanyi's impartial observer must consider two types of lotteries: imaginary identity lotteries ("accidents of birth") that she faces as herself and the real outcome lotteries ("life chances") to be faced by the individuals she imagines becoming. If we maintain a distinction between identity and outcome lotteries, then Harsanyi-like axioms yield generalized utilitarianism, and allow us to accommodate concerns about different individuals' risk attitudes and concerns about fairness. Requiring an impartial observer to be indifferent as to which individual should face similar risks restricts her social welfare function, but still allows her to accommodate fairness. Requiring an impartial observer to be indifferent between identity and outcome lotteries, however, forces her to ignore both fairness and different risk attitudes, and yields a new axiomatization of Harsanyi's utilitarianism. © 2010 The Econometric Society.
Keyword Generalized utilitarianism
Impartial observer
Social welfare function
Fairness
Q-Index Code C1
Q-Index Status Confirmed Code
Institutional Status UQ

Document type: Journal Article
Sub-type: Article (original research)
Collections: Official 2011 Collection
School of Economics Publications
 
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Created: Sun, 09 Jan 2011, 10:08:32 EST