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To be or not to be involved: a questionnaire-experimental view on Harsanyi’s utilitarian ethics

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  • Yoram Amiel
  • Frank Cowell
  • Wulf Gaertner

    ()

Abstract

According to standard theory founded on Harsanyi (1953, 1955) a social welfarefunction can be appropriately based on the individual's approach to choice underuncertainty. We investigate whether people really do rank distributions according tothe same principles irrespective of whether the comparison involves money payoffs ina risky situation or the distribution of income among persons. We use a questionnaireexperiment to focus on the two different interpretations of the Harsanyi approach.There are important, systematic differences that transcend the cultural background ofrespondents.

(This abstract was borrowed from another version of this item.)

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by Springer in its journal Social Choice and Welfare.

Volume (Year): 32 (2009)
Issue (Month): 2 (February)
Pages: 299-316

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Handle: RePEc:spr:sochwe:v:32:y:2009:i:2:p:299-316

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References

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  1. Yoram Amiel & Frank Cowell & Wulf Gaertner, 2012. "Distributional orderings: an approach with seven flavors," Theory and Decision, Springer, vol. 73(3), pages 381-399, September.
  2. Mongin, P., 1999. "The Impartial Observer Theorem of Social Ethics," Papers 99-33, Paris X - Nanterre, U.F.R. de Sc. Ec. Gest. Maths Infor..
  3. Wulf Gaertner & Lars Schwettmann, 2007. "Equity, Responsibility and the Cultural Dimension," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 74(296), pages 627-649, November.
  4. Michele Bernasconi, 2002. "How should income be divided? questionnaire evidence from the theory of “Impartial preferences”," Journal of Economics, Springer, vol. 9(1), pages 163-195, December.
  5. Yoram Amiel & Frank A Cowell, 2001. "Attitudes towards Risk and Inequality: A Questionnaire-Experimental Approach," STICERD - Distributional Analysis Research Programme Papers 56, Suntory and Toyota International Centres for Economics and Related Disciplines, LSE.
  6. Yoram Amiel & Frank A Cowell & Wulf Gaertner, 2006. "To Be or not To Be Involved:A Questionnaire-Experimental View on Harsanyi’sUtilitarian Ethics," STICERD - Distributional Analysis Research Programme Papers 85, Suntory and Toyota International Centres for Economics and Related Disciplines, LSE.
  7. repec:ubc:bricol:90-03 is not listed on IDEAS
  8. Stefan Traub & Christian Seidl & Ulrich Schmidt & M. Vittoria Levati, . "Friedman, Harsanyi, Rawls, Boulding - Or Somebody Else? An Experimental Investigation of Distributive Justice," Papers on Strategic Interaction 2003-19, Max Planck Institute of Economics, Strategic Interaction Group.
  9. Harsanyi, John C, 1978. "Bayesian Decision Theory and Utilitarian Ethics," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 68(2), pages 223-28, May.
  10. Amiel,Yoram & Cowell,Frank, 1999. "Thinking about Inequality," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521466967, November.
  11. John C. Harsanyi, 1953. "Cardinal Utility in Welfare Economics and in the Theory of Risk-taking," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 61, pages 434.
  12. John C. Harsanyi, 1955. "Cardinal Welfare, Individualistic Ethics, and Interpersonal Comparisons of Utility," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 63, pages 309.
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Citations

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Cited by:
  1. Yoram Amiel & Frank A Cowell & Wulf Gaertner, 2007. "Distributional Orderings: An Approach with Seven Flavours," STICERD - Distributional Analysis Research Programme Papers 93, Suntory and Toyota International Centres for Economics and Related Disciplines, LSE.
  2. Luca Corazzini, Lucio Esposito, Francesca Majorano., 2009. "Exploring the Absolutist Vs Relativist Perception of Poverty Using a Cross-Country Questionnaire Survey," ISLA Working Papers 32, ISLA, Centre for research on Latin American Studies and Transition Economies, Universita' Bocconi, Milano, Italy.
  3. Lucio Esposito & Francesca Majorano, 2011. "What principles should inform poverty indices? Insights from a cross-country survey," Empirical Economics, Springer, vol. 41(2), pages 387-420, October.
  4. Yoram Amiel & Frank Cowell & Wulf Gaertner, 2009. "To be or not to be involved: a questionnaire-experimental view on Harsanyi’s utilitarian ethics," Social Choice and Welfare, Springer, vol. 32(2), pages 299-316, February.
  5. Liang, Che-Yuan, 2013. "Optimal Inequality behind the Veil of Ignorance," Working Paper Series 2013:7, Uppsala University, Department of Economics.
  6. James Konow, 2009. "Is fairness in the eye of the beholder? An impartial spectator analysis of justice," Social Choice and Welfare, Springer, vol. 33(1), pages 101-127, June.
  7. Konow, James, 2008. "The Moral High Ground: An Experimental Study of Spectator Impartiality," MPRA Paper 18558, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  8. Hörisch, Hannah, 2008. "Is the veil of ignorance only a concept about risk? An experiment," Discussion Paper Series of SFB/TR 15 Governance and the Efficiency of Economic Systems 230, Free University of Berlin, Humboldt University of Berlin, University of Bonn, University of Mannheim, University of Munich.
  9. Luca Corazzini, Lucio Esposito, Francesca Majorano., 2010. "Reign in Hell or Serve in Heaven? A Cross-country Journey into the Relative vs Absolute Perceptions of Wellbeing," ISLA Working Papers 36, ISLA, Centre for research on Latin American Studies and Transition Economies, Universita' Bocconi, Milano, Italy.
  10. Liang, Che-Yuan, 2013. "Optimal Inequality behind the Veil of Ignorance," Working Paper Series, Center for Fiscal Studies 2013:4, Uppsala University, Department of Economics.
  11. Bleichrodt, Han & Rohde, Kirsten I.M. & Van Ourti, Tom, 2012. "An experimental test of the concentration index," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 31(1), pages 86-98.

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