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Language games of reciprocity

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Author Info

  • Wilson, Bart J.

Abstract

This paper attempts to explicate the meaning of reciprocate in economics. I first show using innate universal concepts that the definition of reciprocate appears to be circular. This circularity problem vanishes, however, when the context of the interaction is introduced as the inextricable link between the act of reciprocating and the intention to reciprocate. Applying Wittgenstein's concept of a language game, I also discuss the claim that social preferences have no agency. Rather, it is an individual's observable action that constitutes agency in reciprocity. My thesis is that social preferences emanate from the actions of social individuals and not vice versa.

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization.

Volume (Year): 68 (2008)
Issue (Month): 2 (November)
Pages: 365-377

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Handle: RePEc:eee:jeborg:v:68:y:2008:i:2:p:365-377

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Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/jebo

Related research

Keywords: Semantics of economics Rhetoric of economics Experimental economics Reciprocity;

References

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  1. Burnham, Terence & McCabe, Kevin & Smith, Vernon L., 2000. "Friend-or-foe intentionality priming in an extensive form trust game," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 43(1), pages 57-73, September.
  2. Herbert Gintis, 2000. "Strong Reciprocity and Human Sociality," UMASS Amherst Economics Working Papers 2000-02, University of Massachusetts Amherst, Department of Economics.
  3. Fehr, Ernst & Schmidt, Klaus M., 1999. "A theory of fairness, competition, and cooperation," Munich Reprints in Economics 20650, University of Munich, Department of Economics.
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  7. Axel Ockenfels & Gary E. Bolton, 2000. "ERC: A Theory of Equity, Reciprocity, and Competition," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 90(1), pages 166-193, March.
  8. Margin Dufwenberg & Georg Kirchsteiger, 2001. "A Theory of Sequential Reciprocity," Levine's Working Paper Archive 563824000000000090, David K. Levine.
  9. Cox, J. & Friedman, D. & Gjerstad, S., 2006. "A Trackable Model of Reciprocity and Fairness," Purdue University Economics Working Papers 1181, Purdue University, Department of Economics.
  10. Gary Charness & Matthew Rabin, 2002. "Understanding Social Preferences With Simple Tests," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 117(3), pages 817-869, August.
  11. Falk, Armin & Fischbacher, Urs, 2001. "A Theory of Reciprocity," CEPR Discussion Papers 3014, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  12. Glenn Harrison & John List, 2004. "Field experiments," Artefactual Field Experiments 00058, The Field Experiments Website.
  13. McCabe, Kevin A. & Rigdon, Mary L. & Smith, Vernon L., 2003. "Positive reciprocity and intentions in trust games," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 52(2), pages 267-275, October.
  14. Smith, Vernon L., 2002. "Constructivist and Ecological Rationality in Economics," Nobel Prize in Economics documents 2002-7, Nobel Prize Committee.
  15. Ernst Fehr & Simon G�chter, 2000. "Fairness and Retaliation: The Economics of Reciprocity," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 14(3), pages 159-181, Summer.
  16. Jacob K Goeree & Charles A Holt, 2004. "Ten Little Treasures of Game Theory and Ten Intuitive Contradictions," Levine's Working Paper Archive 618897000000000900, David K. Levine.
  17. Berg Joyce & Dickhaut John & McCabe Kevin, 1995. "Trust, Reciprocity, and Social History," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 10(1), pages 122-142, July.
  18. Todd L. Cherry & Peter Frykblom & Jason F. Shogren, 2002. "Hardnose the Dictator," Working Papers 02-06, Department of Economics, Appalachian State University.
  19. Smith, Vernon L, 1982. "Microeconomic Systems as an Experimental Science," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 72(5), pages 923-55, December.
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  21. Hoffman, Elizabeth & McCabe, Kevin A & Smith, Vernon L, 1998. "Behavioral Foundations of Reciprocity: Experimental Economics and Evolutionary Psychology," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 36(3), pages 335-52, July.
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  25. Ernst Fehr & Urs Fischbacher, 2002. "Why Social Preferences Matter -- The Impact of Non-Selfish Motives on Competition, Cooperation and Incentives," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 112(478), pages C1-C33, March.
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Citations

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Cited by:
  1. Bart J. Wilson, 2008. "Contra Private Fairness," Working Papers 08-04, Chapman University, Economic Science Institute.
  2. Erik O. Kimbrough & Alexander Vostroknutov, 2013. "Norms Make Preferences Social," Discussion Papers dp13-01, Department of Economics, Simon Fraser University.
  3. Sarah Jacobson & Jason Delaney, 2012. "The Good of the Few: Reciprocity and the Provision of a Public Bad," Department of Economics Working Papers 2014-03, Department of Economics, Williams College, revised May 2014.
  4. Levati, Maria Vittoria & Miettinen, Topi & Rai, Birendra, 2011. "Context and interpretation in laboratory experiments: The case of reciprocity," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 32(5), pages 846-856.
  5. Sarah Jacobson & Jason Delaney, 2013. "Those Outsiders: How Downstream Externalities Affect Public Good Provision," Department of Economics Working Papers 2013-09, Department of Economics, Williams College.
  6. Delaney, Jason & Jacobson, Sarah, 2014. "Those outsiders: How downstream externalities affect public good provision," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 67(3), pages 340-352.

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