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On the economic foundations of decision theory

Aldo Montesano ()

Theory and Decision, 2022, vol. 93, issue 3, No 7, 563-583

Abstract: Abstract Economics bases the choice theory on the mental experiment that introduces the choice correspondence, which associates to every set of possible actions the subset of preferred actions. If some conditions are satisfied, then the choice correspondence implies a binary preference ordering on actions and an ordinal utility function. This approach applies both to decisions under certainty and decisions under uncertainty. The preference ordering depends on the consequence of actions. Under certainty, there is only one consequence to every action, while, under uncertainty, many consequences are possible, associated with the states of the world. These consequences are represented by the action itself, the states of the world, and the corresponding outcomes. Current theories consider only outcomes, but some theories include state dependent preference. Preference for the action itself is not considered, but it might be relevant. The rationality of the theory is a different question from the rationality of the decision-maker. Moreover, the rationality of the theory may imply the rationality of a preference ordering, but this does not require the rationality of the decision-maker. It is only assumed that he/she behaves according to the calculation made by the theorist. The rationality of the preference ordering requires the rationality of the preference on outcomes, of the expectations on the events, and of their connection with the preference ordering on actions. The normative relevance of rational preferences is removed by the introduction of many alternative rational theories, which justify contrasting behaviors in identical situations.

Keywords: Choice; Preference; Uncertainty; Rationality; D81; D81 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2022
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DOI: 10.1007/s11238-021-09853-w

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