Facts, Norms and Expected Utility Functions

History of the Human Sciences 21 (2):45-62 (2008)
In this paper we want to explore an argumentative pattern that provides a normative justification for expected utility functions grounded on empirical evidence, showing how it worked in three different episodes of their development. The argument claims that we should prudentially maximize our expected utility since this is the criterion effectively applied by those who are considered wisest in making risky choices (be it gamblers or businessmen). Yet, to justify the adoption of this rule, it should be proven that this is empirically true: i.e., that a given function allows us to predict the choices of that particular class of agents. We show how expected utility functions were introduced and contested in accordance with this pattern in the 18th century and how it recurred in the 1950s when M. Allais made his case against the neobernoullians.
Keywords History of expected utility theory  Normative decision theory
Categories (categorize this paper)
 Save to my reading list
Follow the author(s)
My bibliography
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Revision history Request removal from index Translate to english
Download options
PhilPapers Archive

Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy on self-archival     Papers currently archived: 9,351
External links
  •   Try with proxy.
  • Through your library Configure
    References found in this work BETA

    No references found.

    Citations of this work BETA

    No citations found.

    Similar books and articles

    Monthly downloads

    Added to index


    Total downloads

    18 ( #78,230 of 1,088,370 )

    Recent downloads (6 months)

    3 ( #30,800 of 1,088,370 )

    How can I increase my downloads?

    My notes
    Sign in to use this feature

    Start a new thread
    There  are no threads in this forum
    Nothing in this forum yet.