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A Theory Of Rational Choice Under Complete Ignorance


  • Klaus Nehring
  • Massimiliano Marcellino

    (Department of Economics, University of California Davis)


This paper contributes to a theory of rational choice under uncertainty for decision-makers whose preferences are exhaustively described by partial orders representing ""limited information."" Specifically, we consider the limiting case of ""Complete Ignorance"" decision problems characterized by maximally incomplete preferences and important primarily as reduced forms of general decision problems under uncertainty. ""Rationality"" is conceptualized in terms of a ""Principle of Preference-Basedness,"" according to which rational choice should be isomorphic to asserted preference. The main result characterizes axiomatically a new choice-rule called ""Simultaneous Expected Utility Maximization"" which in particular satisfies a choice-functional independence and a context-dependent choice-consistency condition; it can be interpreted as the fair agreement in a bargaining game (Kalai-Smorodinsky solution) whose players correspond to the different possible states (respectively extermal priors in the general case).

Suggested Citation

  • Klaus Nehring & Massimiliano Marcellino, 2003. "A Theory Of Rational Choice Under Complete Ignorance," Working Papers 972, University of California, Davis, Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:cda:wpaper:97-2

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    4. R. E. Baldwin & G. G. Cain, "undated". "Shifts in U.S. Relative Wages: The Role of Trade, Technology, and Factor Endowments," Institute for Research on Poverty Discussion Papers 1132-97, University of Wisconsin Institute for Research on Poverty.
    5. Ernst R. Berndt & Catherine J. Morrison & Larry S. Rosenblum, 1992. "High-Tech Capital Formation and Labor Composition in U.S. Manufacturing Industries: An Exploratory Analysis," NBER Working Papers 4010, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    6. Eric J. Bartelsman & Wayne Gray, 1996. "The NBER Manufacturing Productivity Database," NBER Technical Working Papers 0205, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    7. Eli Berman & John Bound & Zvi Griliches, 1994. "Changes in the Demand for Skilled Labor within U. S. Manufacturing: Evidence from the Annual Survey of Manufactures," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 109(2), pages 367-397.
    8. David H. Autor & Lawrence F. Katz & Alan B. Krueger, 1998. "Computing Inequality: Have Computers Changed the Labor Market?," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 113(4), pages 1169-1213.
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