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On Kolm's Use of Epistemic Counterfactuals in Social Choice Theory

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  • John A. Weymark

    ()
    (Department of Economics, Vanderbilt University)

Abstract

Serge Kolm's "epistemic counterfactual principle" says that a social choice only needs to be made from the actual feasible set of alternatives given the actual preference profile, but it must be justified by the choices that would have been made in appropriate counterfactual choice situations. Kolm's principle does not identify the relevant counterfactuals. In this article, it is argued that the appropriate counterfactuals to justify an impartial social choice are all of the choice situations that a moral agent behind a veil of ignorance might think is the actual choice situation outside the veil.

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File URL: http://www.accessecon.com/pubs/VUECON/vu05-w18R.pdf
File Function: Revised version, 2007
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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Vanderbilt University Department of Economics in its series Vanderbilt University Department of Economics Working Papers with number 0518.

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Date of creation: Jun 2005
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Handle: RePEc:van:wpaper:0518

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Web page: http://www.vanderbilt.edu/econ/wparchive/index.html

Related research

Keywords: Arrovian social choice; counterfactual choice; veil of ignorance; impartial observer; universal prescriptivism;

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  1. Michel Le Breton & John A. Weymark, 2002. "Arrovian Social Choice Theory on Economic Domains," Vanderbilt University Department of Economics Working Papers 0206, Vanderbilt University Department of Economics, revised Sep 2003.
  2. Mongin, P & d'Aspremont, C, 1996. "Utility Theory and Ethics," Papers 9632, Paris X - Nanterre, U.F.R. de Sc. Ec. Gest. Maths Infor..
  3. Donaldson, David & Weymark, John A., 1988. "Social choice in economic environments," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 46(2), pages 291-308, December.
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  5. 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.
  6. I. M. D. Little, 1952. "Social Choice and Individual Values," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 60, pages 422.
  7. Samuelson, Paul A, 1977. "Reaffirming the Existence of "Reasonable" Bergson-Samuelson Social Welfare Functions," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 44(173), pages 81-88, February.
  8. Mirrlees, James A, 1971. "An Exploration in the Theory of Optimum Income Taxation," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 38(114), pages 175-208, April.
  9. Stiglitz, Joseph E., 1982. "Self-selection and Pareto efficient taxation," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 17(2), pages 213-240, March.
  10. LeBreton, M., 1994. "Arrovian Social Choice on Economic Domains," G.R.E.Q.A.M. 94a37, Universite Aix-Marseille III.
  11. Parks, Robert P, 1976. "An Impossibility Theorem for Fixed Preferences: A Dictatorial Bergson-Samuelson Welfare Function," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 43(3), pages 447-50, October.
  12. 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.
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