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On Kolm's Use of Epistemic Counterfactuals in Social Choice Theory

  • John A. Weymark

    ()

    (Department of Economics, Vanderbilt University)

Serge Kolm's "epistemic counterfactual principle" says that a social choice only needs to be made from the actual feasible set of alternatives given the actual preference profile, but it must be justified by the choices that would have been made in appropriate counterfactual choice situations. Kolm's principle does not identify the relevant counterfactuals. In this article, it is argued that the appropriate counterfactuals to justify an impartial social choice are all of the choice situations that a moral agent behind a veil of ignorance might think is the actual choice situation outside the veil.

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File URL: http://www.accessecon.com/pubs/VUECON/vu05-w18R.pdf
File Function: Revised version, 2007
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Paper provided by Vanderbilt University Department of Economics in its series Vanderbilt University Department of Economics Working Papers with number 0518.

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Date of creation: Jun 2005
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Handle: RePEc:van:wpaper:0518
Contact details of provider: Web page: http://www.vanderbilt.edu/econ/wparchive/index.html

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  1. MONGIN, Philippe & d ASPREMONT, Claude, 1996. "Utility theory and ethics," CORE Discussion Papers 1996063, Université catholique de Louvain, Center for Operations Research and Econometrics (CORE).
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  4. LeBreton, M., 1994. "Arrovian Social Choice on Economic Domains," G.R.E.Q.A.M. 94a37, Universite Aix-Marseille III.
  5. John C. Harsanyi, 1955. "Cardinal Welfare, Individualistic Ethics, and Interpersonal Comparisons of Utility," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 63, pages 309.
  6. Joseph E. Stiglitz, 1981. "Self-Selection and Pareto Efficient Taxation," NBER Working Papers 0632, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. Parks, Robert P, 1976. "An Impossibility Theorem for Fixed Preferences: A Dictatorial Bergson-Samuelson Welfare Function," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 43(3), pages 447-50, October.
  8. John C. Harsanyi, 1953. "Cardinal Utility in Welfare Economics and in the Theory of Risk-taking," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 61, pages 434.
  9. Samuelson, Paul A, 1977. "Reaffirming the Existence of "Reasonable" Bergson-Samuelson Social Welfare Functions," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 44(173), pages 81-88, February.
  10. Mirrlees, James A, 1971. "An Exploration in the Theory of Optimum Income Taxation," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 38(114), pages 175-208, April.
  11. Kemp, Murray C & Ng, Yew-Kwang, 1976. "On the Existence of Social Welfare Functions, Social Orderings and Social Decision Functions," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 43(169), pages 59-66, February.
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