Rationality, group choice and expected utility

Synthese 63 (2):203 - 232 (1985)
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Abstract

This paper proposes a view uniformly extending expected utility calculations to both individual and group choice contexts. Three related cases illustrate the problems inherent in applying expected utility to group choices. However, these problems do not essentially depend upon the tact that more than one agent is involved. I devise a modified strategy allowing the application of expected utility calculations to these otherwise problematic cases. One case, however, apparently leads to contradiction. But recognizing the falsity of proposition (1) below allows the resolution of the contradiction, and also allows my modified strategy to resolve otherwise paradoxical cases of group choice such as the Prisoners' Dilemma: -/- (1) lf an agent x knows options A and B are both available, and x knows that were he to do A he would be better off (in every respect) than were he to do B, then doing A is more rational for x than doing B.

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Reed Richter
University of California, Irvine (PhD)

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