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Deriving Harsanyi’s Utilitarianism from De Finetti’s Book-Making Argument


  • Enrico Diecidue



The book-making argument was introduced by de Finetti as a principle to prove the existence and uniqueness of subjective probabilities. It has subsequently been accepted as a principle of rationality for decisions under uncertainty. This note shows that the book-making argument has relevant applications to welfare: it gives a new foundation for utilitarianism that is alternative to Harsanyi’s, it generalizes foundations based on the theorem of the alternative, and it avoids arguments based on expected utility. Copyright Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2006

Suggested Citation

  • Enrico Diecidue, 2006. "Deriving Harsanyi’s Utilitarianism from De Finetti’s Book-Making Argument," Theory and Decision, Springer, vol. 61(4), pages 363-371, December.
  • Handle: RePEc:kap:theord:v:61:y:2006:i:4:p:363-371
    DOI: 10.1007/s11238-006-9019-x

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Neuefeind, Wilhelm & Trockel, Walter, 1995. "Continuous Linear Representability of Binary Relations," Economic Theory, Springer;Society for the Advancement of Economic Theory (SAET), vol. 6(2), pages 351-356, July.
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    Cited by:

    1. Eric Danan, 2010. "Randomization vs. Selection: How to Choose in the Absence of Preference?," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 56(3), pages 503-518, March.

    More about this item


    book-making argument; policy independence; utilitarianism; D60; D71; D81;

    JEL classification:

    • D60 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics - - - General
    • D71 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Social Choice; Clubs; Committees; Associations
    • D81 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Criteria for Decision-Making under Risk and Uncertainty


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