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Can Society Function Without Ethical Agents? An Informational Perspective

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  • Bruno Strulovici

Abstract

Many facts are learned through the intermediation of individuals with special access to information, such as law enforcement officers, officials with a security clearance, or experts with specific knowledge. This paper considers whether societies can learn about such facts when information is cheap to manipulate, produced sequentially, and these individuals are devoid of ethical motive. The answer depends on an "information attrition" condition pertaining to the amount of evidence available which distinguishes, for example, between reproducible scientific evidence and the evidence generated in a crime. Applications to institution enforcement, social cohesion, scientific progress, and historical revisionism are discussed.

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  • Bruno Strulovici, 2020. "Can Society Function Without Ethical Agents? An Informational Perspective," Papers 2003.05441, arXiv.org.
  • Handle: RePEc:arx:papers:2003.05441
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    1. William M. Landes, 1974. "An Economic Analysis of the Courts," NBER Chapters, in: Essays in the Economics of Crime and Punishment, pages 164-214, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. David Rahman, 2012. "But Who Will Monitor the Monitor?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 102(6), pages 2767-2797, October.
    3. Bikhchandani, Sushil & Hirshleifer, David & Welch, Ivo, 1992. "A Theory of Fads, Fashion, Custom, and Cultural Change in Informational Cascades," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 100(5), pages 992-1026, October.
    4. Abhijit V. Banerjee, 1992. "A Simple Model of Herd Behavior," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 107(3), pages 797-817.
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