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Deriving Harsanyi's utilitarianism from De Finetti's book - making argument

Author: Diecidue, Enrico INSEAD Area: Decision SciencesIn: Theory and Decision, vol. 61, no. 4, December 2006 Language: EnglishDescription: p. 363-371.Type of document: INSEAD ArticleNote: Please ask us for this itemAbstract: The book-making argument was introduced by de Finetti as a principle to prove the existence and uniqueness of subjective probabilities. It has subsequently been accepted as a principle of rationality for decisions under uncertainty. This note shows that the book-making argument has relevant applications to welfare: It gives a new foundation for utilitarianism as an alternative to Harsanyi's, it generalizes foundations based on the theorem of the alternative, and it avoids arguments based on expected utility.
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The book-making argument was introduced by de Finetti as a principle to prove the existence and uniqueness of subjective probabilities. It has subsequently been accepted as a principle of rationality for decisions under uncertainty. This note shows that the book-making argument has relevant applications to welfare: It gives a new foundation for utilitarianism as an alternative to Harsanyi's, it generalizes foundations based on the theorem of the alternative, and it avoids arguments based on expected utility.

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