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Social preference under twofold uncertainty

Author

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  • Philippe Mongin

    (GREGHEC, CNRS and HEC Paris; LEMMA, Université Paris II Panthéon-Assas and Labex MME-DII)

  • Marcus Pivato

    (THEMA, Université de Cergy-Pontoise)

Abstract

We investigate the conflict between the ex ante and ex post criteria of social welfare in a new framework of individual and social decisions, which distinguishes between two sources of uncertainty, here interpreted as being objective and subjective, respectively. This framework makes it possible to endow the individuals and society not only with ex ante and ex post preferences, as is usually done, but also with interim preferences of two kinds, and correspondingly, to introduce interim forms of the Pareto principle. After characterizing the two social welfare criteria, we present two compromises between them, one based on the ex ante criterion and absorbing as much as possible of the ex post criterion (Theorem 1), the other based on the ex post criterion and absorbing as much as possible of the ex ante criterion (Theorem 2). Both solutions translate the assumed Pareto conditions into weighted additive utility representations, as in Harsanyi’s Aggregation Theorem, and both attribute to the individuals common probability values on the objective source of uncertainty, and different probability values on the subjective source. We discuss these solutions in terms of the by now classic spurious unanimity argument and a novel informational argument labeled complementary ignorance. The paper complies with the standard economic methodology of basing probability and utility representations on preference axioms.

Suggested Citation

  • Philippe Mongin & Marcus Pivato, 2020. "Social preference under twofold uncertainty," Economic Theory, Springer;Society for the Advancement of Economic Theory (SAET), vol. 70(3), pages 633-663, October.
  • Handle: RePEc:spr:joecth:v:70:y:2020:i:3:d:10.1007_s00199-019-01237-0
    DOI: 10.1007/s00199-019-01237-0
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    Cited by:

    1. Dietrich, Franz, 2021. "Fully Bayesian aggregation," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 194(C).
    2. Philippe Mongin & Marcus Pivato, 2021. "Rawls’s difference principle and maximin rule of allocation: a new analysis," Economic Theory, Springer;Society for the Advancement of Economic Theory (SAET), vol. 71(4), pages 1499-1525, June.
    3. Xiangyu Qu, 2020. "Belief-consistent Pareto dominance," Economic Theory Bulletin, Springer;Society for the Advancement of Economic Theory (SAET), vol. 8(2), pages 219-229, October.
    4. Fleurbaey, Marc & Zuber, Stéphane, 2017. "Fair management of social risk," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 169(C), pages 666-706.
    5. Sprumont, Yves, 2018. "Belief-weighted Nash aggregation of Savage preferences," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 178(C), pages 222-245.
    6. Fleurbaey, Marc & Zuber, Stéphane, 2017. "Fair management of social risk," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 169(C), pages 666-706.
    7. Jean Baccelli & Marcus Pivato, 2021. "Philippe Mongin (1950–2020)," Theory and Decision, Springer, vol. 90(1), pages 1-9, February.

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Ex ante social welfare; Ex post social welfare; Objective versus subjective uncertainty; Objective versus subjective probability; Pareto principle; separability; Harsanyi Social Aggregation theorem; Spurious unanimity; Complementary ignorance;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • D70 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - General
    • D81 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Criteria for Decision-Making under Risk and Uncertainty

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