The domain and interpretation of utility functions: An exploration
This paper proposes an exploration of the methodology of utility functions that distinguishes interpretation from representation. While representation univocally assigns numbers to the entities of the domain of utility functions, interpretation relates these entities with empirically observable objects of choice. This allows us to make explicit the standard interpretation of utility functions which assumes that two objects have the same utility if and only if the individual is indifferent among them. We explore the underlying assumptions of such an hypothesis and propose a non-standard interpretation according to which objects of choice have a well-defined utility although individuals may vary in the way they treat these objects in a specific context. We provide examples of such a methodological approach that may explain some reversal of preferences and suggest possible mathematical formulations for further research.
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:
- Fishburn, Peter C, 1989. "Retrospective on the Utility Theory of von Neumann and Morgenstern," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 2(2), pages 127-57, June.
- Chris Starmer, 1999.
"Experiments in economics: should we trust the dismal scientists in white coats?,"
Journal of Economic Methodology,
Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 6(1), pages 1-30.
- Chris Starmer, . "Experiments in Economics ... (should we trust the dismal scientists in white coats?)," University of East Anglia Discussion Papers in Economics _002, School of Economics, University of East Anglia, Norwich, UK..
- Starmer, C., 1998. "Experiments in Economics...(Should We Trust the Dismal Scientists In White Coats?)," University of East Anglia Discussion Papers in Economics 9801, School of Economics, University of East Anglia, Norwich, UK..
- Robert J. Aumann, 1998. "Common Priors: A Reply to Gul," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 66(4), pages 929-938, July.
- Nash, John, 1950. "The Bargaining Problem," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 18(2), pages 155-162, April.
- Marc Le Menestrel, 2001.
"A process approach to the utility for gambling,"
Economics Working Papers
570, Department of Economics and Business, Universitat Pompeu Fabra.
- Amartya Sen, 1997.
"Maximization and the Act of Choice,"
Econometric Society, vol. 65(4), pages 745-780, July.
- Amartya Sen, 1996. "Maximization and the Act of Choice," Harvard Institute of Economic Research Working Papers 1766, Harvard - Institute of Economic Research.
- Sen, A., 1996. "Maximisation and the Act of Choice," Papers 270, Banca Italia - Servizio di Studi.
- Irwin, Julie R, et al, 1993. "Preference Reversals and the Measurement of Environmental Values," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 6(1), pages 5-18, January.
- Peter Fishburn & Peter Wakker, 1995. "The Invention of the Independence Condition for Preferences," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 41(7), pages 1130-1144, July.
When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:upf:upfgen:576. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.
For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: ()
If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.