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Economics and duty-motivated choices

Giovanni Razzu ()
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Giovanni Razzu: Department of Economics, University of Reading

No em-dp2021-02, Economics Discussion Papers from Department of Economics, University of Reading

Abstract: We study the relationship between economics and duties, the latter considered as deep, intrinsic moral obligations that motivate individuals. We first define duty in a way that could be amenable to work within the tools of decision theory, distinguishing between perfect and imperfect duty-motivated choices. Finally, we apply standard decision theory to assess how duties relate to economics, particularly to rationality. Three main findings emerge. One, perfect duty-motivated choice is rational. Two, when imperfect duty is at play, rationality conditions can be violated. Third, by making use of the difference between two representations of the maximisation problem - the relational and the real valued utility function - we show that individuals motivated by duty can choose a maximal while optimising their preference rankings; instead, maximisation of utility may not be possible under duty-motivated choices that supervene the local non satiation assumption.

Keywords: duties; decision theory; rationality; maximisation; optimisation (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: B49 D01 D60 D91 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Pages: 27 pages
Date: 2021-01-22
New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-hpe, nep-mic and nep-upt
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