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Preference for Flexibility and Freedom of Choice in a Savage Framework


  • Klaus Nehring

    (Department of Economics, University of California Davis)


In this paper, we study preferences over Savage acts that map states to opportunity sets. Conditional preferences over opportunity sets may be inconsistent with indirect-utility maximization due to implicit uncertainty about future preferences (preference for flexibility), or to an intrinsic preference for freedom of choice. On a flexibility interpretation, the main result characterizes preferences based on maximizing the expected indirect utility in terms of an ""Indirect Stochastic Dominance"" axiom. The relevance of the result to a freedom-of-choice context is established on the basis of a novel multi-attribute conceptualization of the notion of effective freedom of choice; the theorem delivers an additive multi-attribute representation with optimal uniqueness properties. The key technical tool of the paper, a version of MÅ¡bius inversion has been imported from the theory of (non-additive) ""belief-functions;"" it also yields a simple and intuitive proof of Kreps''s (1979) classic result.

Suggested Citation

  • Klaus Nehring, 2003. "Preference for Flexibility and Freedom of Choice in a Savage Framework," Working Papers 9615, University of California, Davis, Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:cda:wpaper:96-15

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Dekel, Eddie & Lipman, Barton L. & Rustichini, Aldo, 1998. "Recent developments in modeling unforeseen contingencies," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 42(3-5), pages 523-542, May.
    2. Sadowski, Philipp, 2008. "Conditional Preference for Flexibility: Eliciting Beliefs from Behavior," MPRA Paper 8614, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    3. Ortoleva, Pietro, 2013. "The price of flexibility: Towards a theory of Thinking Aversion," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 148(3), pages 903-934.
    4. Philipp Sadowski, 2011. "Contingent Preference for Flexibility: Eliciting Beliefs from Behavior," Levine's Working Paper Archive 661465000000001189, David K. Levine.
    5. Epstein, Larry G. & Seo, Kyoungwon, 2009. "Subjective states: A more robust model," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 67(2), pages 408-427, November.

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