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Aggregating sets of von Neumann-Morgenstern utilities


  • Eric Danan

    () (THEMA - Théorie économique, modélisation et applications - Université de Cergy Pontoise - CNRS - Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique)

  • Thibault Gajdos

    () (CES - Centre d'économie de la Sorbonne - UP1 - Université Panthéon-Sorbonne - CNRS - Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique)

  • Jean-Marc Tallon

    () (PSE - Paris School of Economics, CES - Centre d'économie de la Sorbonne - UP1 - Université Panthéon-Sorbonne - CNRS - Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique)


We analyze the aggregation problem without the assumption that individuals and society have fully determined and observable preferences. More precisely, we endow individuals ans society with sets of possible von Neumann-Morgenstern utility functions over lotteries. We generalize the classical neutrality assumption to this setting and characterize the class of neutral social welfare function. This class turns out to be considerably broader for indeterminate than for determinate utilities, where it basically reduces to utilitarianism. In particular, aggregation rules may differ by the relationship between individual and social indeterminacy. We characterize several subclasses of neutral aggregation rules and show that utilitarian rules are those that yield the least indeterminate social utilities, although they still fail to systematically yield a determinate social utility.

Suggested Citation

  • Eric Danan & Thibault Gajdos & Jean-Marc Tallon, 2010. "Aggregating sets of von Neumann-Morgenstern utilities," Université Paris1 Panthéon-Sorbonne (Post-Print and Working Papers) halshs-00523448, HAL.
  • Handle: RePEc:hal:cesptp:halshs-00523448
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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Dubra, Juan & Maccheroni, Fabio & Ok, Efe A., 2004. "Expected utility theory without the completeness axiom," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 115(1), pages 118-133, March.
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    3. Green, Jerry & Hojman, Daniel, 2007. "Choice, Rationality and Welfare Measurement," Working Paper Series rwp07-054, Harvard University, John F. Kennedy School of Government.
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    5. Attila Ambrus & Kareen Rozen, 2015. "Rationalising Choice with Multi‐self Models," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 125(585), pages 1136-1156, June.
    6. Claude D'Aspremont & Louis Gevers, 1977. "Equity and the Informational Basis of Collective Choice," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 44(2), pages 199-209.
    7. Dekel, Eddie & Lipman, Barton L & Rustichini, Aldo, 2001. "Representing Preferences with a Unique Subjective State Space," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 69(4), pages 891-934, July.
    8. Philippe Mongin, 2001. "A note on mixture sets in decision theory," Decisions in Economics and Finance, Springer;Associazione per la Matematica, vol. 24(1), pages 59-69, May.
    9. Kreps, David M, 1979. "A Representation Theorem for "Preference for Flexibility"," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 47(3), pages 565-577, May.
    10. Baucells, Manel & Shapley, Lloyd S., 2008. "Multiperson utility," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 62(2), pages 329-347, March.
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    Cited by:

    1. Hill , Brian & Danan , Eric, 2014. "Aggregating Tastes, Beliefs, and Attitudes Under Uncertainty," Les Cahiers de Recherche 1057, HEC Paris.
    2. Eric Danan & Thibault Gajdos & Jean-Marc Tallon, 2015. "Harsanyi's Aggregation Theorem with Incomplete Preferences," American Economic Journal: Microeconomics, American Economic Association, vol. 7(1), pages 61-69, February.

    More about this item


    Agrégation; fonction d'utilité vNM; indétermination; neutralité; utilitarianisme; Aggregation; vNM utility; indeterminacy; neutrality; utilitarianism;

    JEL classification:

    • 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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