Biology and the Arguments of Utility
AbstractWhy did evolution not give us a utility function that is offspring alone? Why do we care intrinsically about other outcomes, such as food, and what determines the intensity of such preferences? A common view is that such other outcomes enhance fitness and the intensity of our preference for a given outcome is proportional to its contribution to fitness. We argue that this view is incomplete. Specifically, we show that in the presence of informational asymmetries, the evolutionarily most desirable preference for a given outcome is determined not only by the significance of the outcome, but by the Agent's degree of ignorance regarding its significance. Our model also sheds light on the phenomena of peer effects and prepared learning, whereby some peer attitudes are more influential than others.
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Bibliographic InfoPaper provided by Cowles Foundation for Research in Economics, Yale University in its series Cowles Foundation Discussion Papers with number 1893.
Length: 30 pages
Date of creation: Apr 2013
Date of revision:
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Postal: Cowles Foundation, Yale University, Box 208281, New Haven, CT 06520-8281 USA
Other versions of this item:
- Luis Rayo & Arthur J. Robson, 2013. "Biology and the Arguments of Utility," Levine's Working Paper Archive 786969000000000787, David K. Levine.
- Luis Rayo & Arthur Robson, 2013. "Biology and the Arguments of Utility," Cowles Foundation Discussion Papers 1893R, Cowles Foundation for Research in Economics, Yale University, revised Apr 2014.
- D01 - Microeconomics - - General - - - Microeconomic Behavior: Underlying Principles
- D80 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - General
This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:
- NEP-ALL-2013-05-05 (All new papers)
- NEP-EVO-2013-05-05 (Evolutionary Economics)
- NEP-MIC-2013-05-05 (Microeconomics)
- NEP-UPT-2013-05-05 (Utility Models & Prospect Theory)
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Blog mentionsAs found by EconAcademics.org, the blog aggregator for Economics research:
- Why are children not the focus of our preferences?
by Economic Logician in Economic Logic on 2013-05-27 13:56:00
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