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Probability Adjusted Rank-Discounted Utilitarianism

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  • Geir B. Asheim
  • Stéphane Zuber

Abstract

We propose and axiomatize probability adjusted rank-discounted critical-level generalized utilitarianism (PARDCLU). We thus generalize rank-discounted utilitarianism (RDU) (proposed by Zuber and Asheim, 2012) to variable population and risky situations and thereby take important steps towards preparing RDU for practical use, e.g. for evaluation of climate policies and other policy issues with long-run consequences. We illustrate how PARDCLU yields rank-dependent expected utilitarianism - but with additional structure - in a special case, and show how PARDCLU can handle a situation with positive probability of human extinction.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by CESifo Group Munich in its series CESifo Working Paper Series with number 4728.

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Date of creation: 2014
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Handle: RePEc:ces:ceswps:_4728

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Related research

Keywords: social evaluation; population ethics; decision-making under risk; critical-level utilitarianism; social discounting;

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  1. 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.
  2. Asheim, Geir B. & Zuber, Stephane, 2012. "Escaping the Repugnant Conclusion: Rank-discounted Utilitarianism with Variable Population," Memorandum 23/2012, Oslo University, Department of Economics.
  3. John Roemer, 2011. "The Ethics of Intertemporal Distribution in a Warming Planet," Environmental & Resource Economics, European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 48(3), pages 363-390, March.
  4. Marc Fleurbaey, 2007. "Assessing Risky Social Situations," IDEP Working Papers 0703, Institut d'economie publique (IDEP), Marseille, France, revised Jan 2007.
  5. Simon Grant & Atsushi Kajii & Ben Polak & Zvi Safra, 2010. "Generalized Utilitarianism and Harsanyi's Impartial Observer Theorem," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 78(6), pages 1939-1971, November.
  6. Antoine Bommier & Stéphane Zuber, 2008. "Can preferences for catastrophe avoidance reconcile social discounting with intergenerational equity?," Social Choice and Welfare, Springer, vol. 31(3), pages 415-434, October.
  7. Quiggin, John, 1982. "A theory of anticipated utility," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 3(4), pages 323-343, December.
  8. Stéphane Zuber & Geir B. Asheim, 2010. "Justifying Social Discounting: The Rank-Discounted Utilitarian Approach," CESifo Working Paper Series 3192, CESifo Group Munich.
  9. 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.
  10. Charles Blackorby & Walter Bossert & David Donaldson, 2007. "Variable-population extensions of social aggregation theorems," Social Choice and Welfare, Springer, vol. 28(4), pages 567-589, June.
  11. Epstein, Larry G & Segal, Uzi, 1992. "Quadratic Social Welfare Functions," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 100(4), pages 691-712, August.
  12. Blackorby, Charles, et al, 1973. "Consistent Intertemporal Decision Making," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 40(2), pages 239-48, April.
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