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Kantian Optimization, Social Ethos, and Pareto Efficiency

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  • John E. Roemer

Abstract

Although evidence accrues in biology, anthropology and experimental economics that homo sapiens is a cooperative species, the reigning assumption in economic theory is that individuals optimize in an autarkic manner (as in Nash and Walrasian equilibrium). I here postulate an interdependent kind of optimizing behavior, called Kantian. It is shown that in simple economic models, when there are negative externalities (such as congestion effects from use of a commonly owned resource) or positive externalities (such as a social ethos reflected in individuals’ preferences), Kantian equilibria dominate Nash-Walras equilibria in terms of efficiency. While economists schooled in Nash equilibrium may view the Kantian behavior as utopian, there is some -- perhaps much -- evidence that it exists. If cultures evolve through group selection, the hypothesis that Kantian behavior is more prevalent than we may think is supported by the efficiency results here demonstrated.

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Paper provided by David K. Levine in its series Levine's Working Paper Archive with number 786969000000000407.

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Date of creation: 13 Apr 2012
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Handle: RePEc:cla:levarc:786969000000000407

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  1. Kantian Optimisation
    by Nicholas Gruen in Club Troppo on 2012-03-27 07:55:50

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