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The ignorant observer

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  • Thibault Gajdos

    ()
    (CES - Centre d'économie de la Sorbonne - CNRS : UMR8174 - Université Paris I - Panthéon-Sorbonne)

  • Feriel Kandil

    ()
    (CERC - CONSEIL DE L'EMPLOI, DES REVENUS ET DE LA COHESION SOCIALE - Conseil de l'Emploi, des Revenus et de la Cohésion sociale)

Abstract

We propose an extension of Harsanyi's Impartial Observer Theorem based on the representation of ignorance as the set of all possible probability distributions over individuals. We obtain a characterization of the observer's preferences that, under our most restrictive conditions, is a convex combination of Harsanyi's utilitarian and Rawls' egalitarian criteria. This representation is ethically meaningful, in the sense that individuals' utilities are cardinally measurable and fully comparable. This allows us to conclude that the impartiality requirement cannot be used to decide between Rawls' and Harsanyi's positions.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by HAL in its series Université Paris1 Panthéon-Sorbonne (Post-Print and Working Papers) with number halshs-00177374.

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Date of creation: Aug 2008
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Publication status: Published, Social Choice and Welfare, 2008, 31, 2, 193-232
Handle: RePEc:hal:cesptp:halshs-00177374

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Keywords: Impartiality; Justice; Utilitarianism; Egalitarianism; Decision under ignorance.;

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References

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  1. Binmore, Ken, 1989. "Social Contract I: Harsani and Rawls," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 99(395), pages 84-102, Supplemen.
  2. David Schmeidler, 1989. "Subjective Probability and Expected Utility without Additivity," Levine's Working Paper Archive 7662, David K. Levine.
  3. DHILLON, Amrita & MERTENS, Jean-François, 1993. "Relative Utilitarianism," CORE Discussion Papers 1993048, Université catholique de Louvain, Center for Operations Research and Econometrics (CORE).
  4. Edi Karni & John A. Weymark, 1998. "An informationally parsimonious impartial observer theorem," Social Choice and Welfare, Springer, vol. 15(3), pages 321-332.
  5. Thibault Gajdos & Takashi Hayashi & Jean-Marc Tallon & Jean-Christophe Vergnaud, 2006. "Attitude toward imprecise information," Université Paris1 Panthéon-Sorbonne (Post-Print and Working Papers) halshs-00130179, HAL.
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  8. Gajdos, Thibault & Tallon, Jean-Marc & Vergnaud, Jean-Christophe, 2004. "Decision making with imprecise probabilistic information," Journal of Mathematical Economics, Elsevier, vol. 40(6), pages 647-681, September.
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  13. Thibault Gajdos & Jean-Marc Tallon & Jean-Christophe Vergnaud, 2002. "Coping with imprecise information : a decision theoretic approach," Cahiers de la Maison des Sciences Economiques v04056, Université Panthéon-Sorbonne (Paris 1), revised May 2004.
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  16. Barbera, S. & Bossert, W. & Pattanaik, P.K., 2001. "Ranking Sets of Objects," Cahiers de recherche 2001-02, Centre interuniversitaire de recherche en économie quantitative, CIREQ.
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  19. 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.
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Citations

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Cited by:
  1. FLEURBAEY, Marc & ZUBER, Stéphane, 2011. "Inequality aversion and separability in social risk evaluation," CORE Discussion Papers 2011023, Université catholique de Louvain, Center for Operations Research and Econometrics (CORE).
  2. Grant, Simon & Kajii, Atsushi & Polak, Ben & Safra, Zvi, 2012. "Equally-distributed equivalent utility, ex post egalitarianism and utilitarianism," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 147(4), pages 1545-1571.
  3. Eckert, Daniel & Klamler, Christian, 2010. "An equity-efficiency trade-off in a geometric approach to committee selection," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 26(3), pages 386-391, September.

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