Fairness and Utilitarianism without Independence

22 June 2017
Versione stampabile

2 PM, Seminar Room, Department of Economics and Management, via Inama 5 - Trento

Speaker: Zvi Safra, Warwick Business School


In this work we reconsider Harsanyi’s celebrated (1953, 1955, 1977) utilitarian impartial observer theorem. Departing from Harsanyi’s individual-centered approach, we argue that, when societal decisions are at stake, postulates must not be drawn from individualistic behavior. Rather, they should be based on societal norms. Hence, notions like societal fairness should explicitly be the guiding principles. Continuing this line of thinking, we state and prove a utilitarian result that, rather than being based on the independence assumption, is based on the notion of procedural fairness and on symmetric treatment of societal and individual lotteries.

The paper is co-authored with Sinong Ma, University of Warwick