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A Model of Path-Dependence in Decisions over Multiple Propositions


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Decisions or arguments over multiple interconnected propositions are path-dependent if they depend on the order in which the propositions are considered. I develop a model of sequential decision or argumentation processes over multiple propositions, focussing on so-called modus ponens processes. I prove three main results. (1) Path-dependence occurs if and only if an individual’s or a group’s initial dispositions on a set of propositions violate deductive closure. (2) If we impose universal domain, anonymity and decisiveness on a (collective) modus ponens decision process, path-dependencies are unavoidable. (3) Path-dependence makes sequential decision or argumentation processes vulnerable to manipulation by changes of the decision-path and to manipulation by expression of untruthful views on the propositions. I discuss three escape-routes from the problem of path-dependence: the unanimity approach, the dictatorship approach, and the domain restriction approach.

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Paper provided by Economics Group, Nuffield College, University of Oxford in its series Economics Papers with number 2002-W15.

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Length: 30 pages
Date of creation: 20 May 2002
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Handle: RePEc:nuf:econwp:0215

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Cited by:
  1. Nehring, Klaus & Pivato, Marcus & Puppe, Clemens, 2011. "Condorcet admissibility: Indeterminacy and path-dependence under majority voting on interconnected decisions," MPRA Paper 32434, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  2. Dietrich, Franz, 2011. "Scoring rules for judgment aggregation," MPRA Paper 35657, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  3. Philippe Mongin, 2012. "The doctrinal paradox, the discursive dilemma, and logical aggregation theory," Theory and Decision, Springer, Springer, vol. 73(3), pages 315-355, September.
  4. Dietrich, Franz, 2010. "The possibility of judgment aggregation on agendas with subjunctive implications," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 145(2), pages 603-638, March.
  5. Nehring, Klaus & Puppe, Clemens, 2010. "Abstract Arrowian aggregation," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 145(2), pages 467-494, March.
  6. Christian List, 2007. "Group deliberation and the transformation ofjudgments: an impossibility result," STICERD - Political Economy and Public Policy Paper Series, Suntory and Toyota International Centres for Economics and Related Disciplines, LSE 26, Suntory and Toyota International Centres for Economics and Related Disciplines, LSE.
  7. List, Christian & Polak, Ben, 2010. "Introduction to judgment aggregation," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 145(2), pages 441-466, March.


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