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The Homeless Observer: John Harsanyi On Interpersonal Utility Comparisons And Bargaining, 1950–1964

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  • FONTAINE, PHILIPPE

Abstract

This paper traces interpersonal utility comparisons and bargaining in the work of John Harsanyi from the 1950s to the mid-1960s. As his preoccupation with how theorists can obtain information about agents moved from an approach centered on empathetic understanding to the more distanced perspective associated with game theory, Harsanyi shifted emphasis from the social scientist’s lack of information vis-à-vis agents to agents’ lack of information about each other. In the process, he provided economists with an analytical framework they could use to study problems related to the distribution of information among agents while consolidating the perspective of a distant observer whose knowledge can replace that of real people.

Suggested Citation

  • Fontaine, Philippe, 2010. "The Homeless Observer: John Harsanyi On Interpersonal Utility Comparisons And Bargaining, 1950–1964," Journal of the History of Economic Thought, Cambridge University Press, vol. 32(02), pages 145-173, June.
  • Handle: RePEc:cup:jhisec:v:32:y:2010:i:02:p:145-173_00
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    1. M. G. Hayes, 2006. "The Economics of Keynes," Books, Edward Elgar Publishing, number 12601, April.
    2. John F. Helliwell, 2006. "From Flapper to Bluestocking: What Happened to the Young Woman of Wellington Street?," Bank of Canada Review, Bank of Canada, vol. 2005(Winter), pages 31-39.
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