IDEAS home Printed from
MyIDEAS: Login to save this article or follow this journal

The Invention of the Independence Condition for Preferences

  • Peter Fishburn

    (AT&T Bell Laboratories, Murray Hill, New Jersey 07974)

  • Peter Wakker

    (Medical Decision Making Unit, University of Leiden (AZL), Leiden, The Netherlands)

This paper discusses the history and interrelations of three central ideas in preference theory: the independence condition in decision under risk, the sure-thing principle in decision under uncertainty, and conjoint independence for multiattribute decisions and consumer theory. Independence was recognized as an important component of decision under risk in the late 1940s by Jacob Marschak, John Nash, Herman Rubin, and Norman Dalkey, and first appeared in publication in Marschak (Marschak, J. 1950. Rational behavior, uncertain prospects, and measurable utility. Econometrica 18 111--141.) and Nash (Nash, J. F. 1950. The bargaining problem. Econometrica 18 155--162.). The sure-thing principle can be credited to Savage (Savage, L. J. 1953. Une Axiomatisation du Comportement Raisonnable Face à l'Incertitude. Colloq. Internal. Centre National Rech. Sci. 40 Econométrie 29--40; Savage, L. J. 1954. The Foundations of Statistics. Wiley, New York (2nd edn., Dover, New York, 1972.). Conjoint independence for consumer theory was introduced by Sono (Sono, M. 1943. The effect of price changes on the demand and supply of separable goods (in Japanese). Kokumin Keisai Zasshi 74 1--51.) and Leontief (Leontief, W. W. 1947a. A note on the interrelation of subsets of independent variables of a continuous function with continuous first derivatives. Bull. Amer. Math. Soc. 53 343--350; Leontief, W. W. 1947b. Introduction to a theory of the internal structure of functional relationships. Econometrica 51 361--373.); a form of it can also be recognized in Samuelson (Samuelson, P. A. 1947. Foundations of Economic Analysis. Harvard University Press, Cambridge, MA.), presented earlier in Samuelson (Samuelson, P. A. 1940. Foundations of analytical economics, the observational significance of economic theory. Ph.D. dissertation, Harvard University, Boston, MA.). Independence and the sure-thing principle are equivalent for decision under risk, but in a less elementary way than has sometimes been thought. The sure-thing principle for decision under uncertainty and conjoint independence are identical in a mathematical sense. The mathematics underlying our three preference conditions has an older history. The independence condition for decision under risk can be recognized in the characterization of "associative means," and conjoint independence for multiattribute decisions in solutions to the "generalized associativity functional equation."

If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.

File URL:
Download Restriction: no

Article provided by INFORMS in its journal Management Science.

Volume (Year): 41 (1995)
Issue (Month): 7 (July)
Pages: 1130-1144

in new window

Handle: RePEc:inm:ormnsc:v:41:y:1995:i:7:p:1130-1144
Contact details of provider: Postal: 7240 Parkway Drive, Suite 300, Hanover, MD 21076 USA
Phone: +1-443-757-3500
Fax: 443-757-3515
Web page:

More information through EDIRC

No references listed on IDEAS
You can help add them by filling out this form.

This item is not listed on Wikipedia, on a reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.

When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:inm:ormnsc:v:41:y:1995:i:7:p:1130-1144. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Mirko Janc)

If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.

If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

This information is provided to you by IDEAS at the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis using RePEc data.