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A Rehabilitation of the Principle of Insufficient Reason


  • Sinn, Hans-Werner


It is shown that two of the axioms necessary for the expected utility rule imply the Principle of Insufficient Reason. Whenever a decision maker knows the possible states of the world, but completely lacks information about the plausibility of each single state, he has to behave as if all states occurred with the same objective probability, known with certainty. The result is applied to decision trees and used to solve a problem formulated by Savage in order to discredit the classical version of the Principle of Insufficient Reason.

Suggested Citation

  • Sinn, Hans-Werner, 1980. "A Rehabilitation of the Principle of Insufficient Reason," Munich Reprints in Economics 19914, University of Munich, Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:lmu:muenar:19914

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Hans Genberg & Henryk Kierzkowski, 1979. "Impact and long-run effects of economic disturbances in a dynamic model of exchange rate determination," Review of World Economics (Weltwirtschaftliches Archiv), Springer;Institut für Weltwirtschaft (Kiel Institute for the World Economy), vol. 115(4), pages 605-628, December.
    2. Robert A. Mundell, 1962. "The Appropriate Use of Monetary and Fiscal Policy for Internal and External Stability," IMF Staff Papers, Palgrave Macmillan, vol. 9(1), pages 70-79, March.
    3. Akira Takayama, 1969. "The Effects of Fiscal and Monetary Policies under Flexible and Fixed Exchange Rates," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 2(2), pages 190-209, May.
    4. Foley, Duncan K, 1975. "On Two Specifications of Asset Equilibrium in Macroeconomic Models," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 83(2), pages 303-324, April.
    5. Kouri, Pentti J K, 1976. " The Exchange Rate and the Balance of Payments in the Short Run and in the Long Run: A Monetary Approach," Scandinavian Journal of Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 78(2), pages 280-304.
    6. Egon Sohmen, 1967. "Fiscal and Monetary Policies Under Alternative Exchange-Rate Systems," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 81(3), pages 515-523.
    7. Dornbusch, Rudiger, 1976. "Expectations and Exchange Rate Dynamics," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 84(6), pages 1161-1176, December.
    8. Niehans, Jurg, 1977. "Exchange Rate Dynamics with Stock/Flow Interaction," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 85(6), pages 1245-1257, December.
    9. Robert Murphy & Carl Duyne, 1980. "Asset market approaches to exchange rate determination: A comparative analysis," Review of World Economics (Weltwirtschaftliches Archiv), Springer;Institut für Weltwirtschaft (Kiel Institute for the World Economy), vol. 116(4), pages 627-656, December.
    10. Levin, Jay H, 1980. "The Dynamics of Stabilization Policy under Flexible Exchange Rates: A Synthesis of the Asset and Neo-Keynesian Approaches," Oxford Economic Papers, Oxford University Press, vol. 32(3), pages 411-427, November.
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    Cited by:

    1. Drouvelis, Michalis & Müller, Wieland & Possajennikov, Alex, 2012. "Signaling without a common prior: Results on experimental equilibrium selection," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 74(1), pages 102-119.
    2. Claire Crawford & Lorraine Dearden & Ellen Greaves, 2013. "Identifying the drivers of month of birth differences in educational attainment," DoQSS Working Papers 13-07, Department of Quantitative Social Science - UCL Institute of Education, University College London.
    3. Fontini, Fulvio & Umgiesser, Georg & Vergano, Lucia, 2010. "The role of ambiguity in the evaluation of the net benefits of the MOSE system in the Venice lagoon," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 69(10), pages 1964-1972, August.
    4. Susan Stratton Sayre & Rachel Goodhue & Leo Simon, "undated". "Probabilistic Political Viability: A Methodology for Predictive Political Economy," Working Papers 2012-01, Smith College, Department of Economics.
    5. Camilla Froyn, 2005. "Decision Criteria, Scientific Uncertainty, and the Globalwarming Controversy," Mitigation and Adaptation Strategies for Global Change, Springer, vol. 10(2), pages 183-211, April.
    6. Maarten Janssen, 2001. "Rationalizing Focal Points," Theory and Decision, Springer, vol. 50(2), pages 119-148, March.
    7. Alex Possajennikov, 2012. "Belief Formation in a Signalling Game without Common Prior: An Experiment," Discussion Papers 2012-06, The Centre for Decision Research and Experimental Economics, School of Economics, University of Nottingham.
    8. Krakel, Matthias, 2000. "Relative deprivation in rank-order tournaments," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 7(4), pages 385-407, July.
    9. Burer, Samuel & Jones, Philip C. & Lowe, Timothy J., 2008. "Coordinating the supply chain in the agricultural seed industry," European Journal of Operational Research, Elsevier, vol. 185(1), pages 354-377, February.
    10. Ali Ahmed & Göran Skogh, 2006. "Choices at various levels of uncertainty: An experimental test of the restated diversification theorem," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 33(3), pages 183-196, December.
    11. Keith Dougherty & Julian Edward, 2012. "Voting for Pareto optimality: a multidimensional analysis," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 151(3), pages 655-678, June.
    12. Singer, Marcos & Donoso, Patricio & Rodríguez-Sickert, Carlos, 2008. "A static model of cooperation for group-based incentive plans," International Journal of Production Economics, Elsevier, vol. 115(2), pages 492-501, October.

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