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Nontransitive Preferences in Decision Theory


  • Fishburn, Peter C


Intransitive preferences have been a topic of curiosity, study, and debate over the past 40 yers. Many economists and decision theorists insist on transitivity as the cornerstone of rational choice, and even in behavioral decision theory intransitivities are often attributed to faulty experiments, random or sloppy choices, poor judgment, or unexamined biases. But others see intransitive preferences and potential truths of reasoned comparisons and propose representations of preferences that accommodate intransitivities. This article offers a partial survey of models for intransitive preference in a variety of decisional contexts. These include economic consumer theory, multiattribute utility theory, game theory, preference between time streams, and decision making under risk and uncertainty. The survey is preceded by a discussion of issues that bear on the relevance and reasonableness of intransitivity. Copyright 1991 by Kluwer Academic Publishers

Suggested Citation

  • Fishburn, Peter C, 1991. "Nontransitive Preferences in Decision Theory," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 4(2), pages 113-134, April.
  • Handle: RePEc:kap:jrisku:v:4:y:1991:i:2:p:113-34

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