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Language games of reciprocity

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  • Wilson, Bart J.

Abstract

This paper attempts to explicate the meaning of reciprocate in economics. I first show using innate universal concepts that the definition of reciprocate appears to be circular. This circularity problem vanishes, however, when the context of the interaction is introduced as the inextricable link between the act of reciprocating and the intention to reciprocate. Applying Wittgenstein's concept of a language game, I also discuss the claim that social preferences have no agency. Rather, it is an individual's observable action that constitutes agency in reciprocity. My thesis is that social preferences emanate from the actions of social individuals and not vice versa.

Suggested Citation

  • Wilson, Bart J., 2008. "Language games of reciprocity," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 68(2), pages 365-377, November.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:jeborg:v:68:y:2008:i:2:p:365-377
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Delaney, Jason & Jacobson, Sarah, 2014. "Those outsiders: How downstream externalities affect public good provision," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 67(3), pages 340-352.
    2. Bart J. Wilson, 2012. "Contra Private Fairness," American Journal of Economics and Sociology, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 71(2), pages 407-435, April.
    3. Erik O. Kimbrough & Alexander Vostroknutov, 2016. "Norms Make Preferences Social," Journal of the European Economic Association, European Economic Association, vol. 14(3), pages 608-638.
    4. Sarah Jacobson & Jason Delaney, 2012. "The Good of the Few: Reciprocity in the Provision of a Public Bad," Department of Economics Working Papers 2012-02, Department of Economics, Williams College.
    5. Delaney, Jason & Jacobson, Sarah, 2015. "The good of the few: Reciprocal acts and the provision of a public bad," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 58(C), pages 46-55.
    6. Vernon L. Smith, 2016. "The Fair and Impartial Spectator," Econ Journal Watch, Econ Journal Watch, vol. 13(2), pages 330–339-3, May.
    7. Levati, Maria Vittoria & Miettinen, Topi & Rai, Birendra, 2011. "Context and interpretation in laboratory experiments: The case of reciprocity," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 32(5), pages 846-856.
    8. Uta Wilkens & Daniel Nermerich, 2011. "'Love it, change it, or leave it' – Understanding Highly-skilled Flexible Workers’ Job Satisfaction from a Psychological Contract Perspective," management revue - Socio-Economic Studies, Nomos Verlagsgesellschaft mbH & Co. KG, vol. 22(1), pages 65-83.

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