Economics at your fingertips  

De Finetti on uncertainty

Alberto Feduzi, Jochen Runde and Carlo Zappia ()

Cambridge Journal of Economics, 2014, vol. 38, issue 1, 1-21

Abstract: The well-known Knightian distinction between quantifiable risk and unquantifiable uncertainty is at odds with the dominant subjectivist conception of probability associated with de Finetti, Ramsey and Savage. Risk and uncertainty are rendered indistinguishable on the subjectivist approach insofar as an individual’s subjective estimate of the probability of any event can be elicited from the odds at which she would be prepared to bet for or against that event. The risk/uncertainty distinction has however never quite gone away and is currently under renewed theoretical scrutiny. The purpose of this article is to show that de Finetti’s understanding of the distinction is more nuanced than is usually admitted. Relying on usually overlooked excerpts of de Finetti’s works commenting on Keynes, Knight and interval valued probabilities, we argue that de Finetti suggested a relevant theoretical case for uncertainty to hold even when individuals are endowed with subjective probabilities. Indeed, de Finetti admitted that the distinction between risk and uncertainty is relevant when different individuals sensibly disagree about the probability of the occurrence of an event. We conclude that the received interpretation of de Finetti’s understanding of subjective probability needs to be qualified on this front.

Date: 2014
References: Add references at CitEc
Citations: View citations in EconPapers (3) Track citations by RSS feed

Downloads: (external link) (application/pdf)
Access to full text is restricted to subscribers.

Related works:
This item may be available elsewhere in EconPapers: Search for items with the same title.

Export reference: BibTeX RIS (EndNote, ProCite, RefMan) HTML/Text

Persistent link:

Ordering information: This journal article can be ordered from

Access Statistics for this article

Cambridge Journal of Economics is currently edited by Jacqui Lagrue

More articles in Cambridge Journal of Economics from Oxford University Press Oxford University Press, Great Clarendon Street, Oxford OX2 6DP, UK.
Bibliographic data for series maintained by Oxford University Press () and Christopher F. Baum ().

Page updated 2022-01-10
Handle: RePEc:oup:cambje:v:38:y:2014:i:1:p:1-21.