Instability of ex post aggregation in the bolker–jeffrey framework and related instability phenomena

Erkenntnis 55 (2):239-270 (2001)

Mathias Risse
Harvard University
Suppose n Bayesian agents need to make a decision as a group. The groupas a whole is also supposed to be a Bayesian agent whose probabilities andutilities are derived or aggregated in reasonable ways from the probabilitiesand utilities of the group members. The aggregation could beex ante, i.e., interms of expected utilities, or it could be ex post, i.e., in terms of utilitiesonly, or in terms of utilities and probabilities separately. This study exploresthe ex post approach. Using the Bolker/Jeffrey framework, we show thatex post aggregation is subject to an instability phenomenon. That is, it mayhappen that the group preference between actions ``flips back and forth'''' dependingon the level of detail in which the decision problem is described. Structurally verysimilar phenomena also occur elsewhere in social choice theory, in statistics (Simpson''sParadox), and in voting theory (Ostrogorski''s Paradox).
Keywords Philosophy   Philosophy   Epistemology   Ethics   Logic   Ontology
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Reprint years 2004
DOI 10.1023/A:1012933421686
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