By Heukelom F.
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Extra info for Behavioral Economics: A History
Numerically defined utility was not an ontological claim about the nature of that relationship, but rather an axiomatic characterization of how individuals decide. That is how it was intended by von Neumann and Morgenstern. But by stating that “[i]t simplifies matters, and involves no loss in generality, to regard the alternatives open to the consumer unit as capable of being expressed entirely in terms of money or money equivalents” (Friedman and Savage, 1948, p. 288), Friedman and Savage at least suggested that it was an ontological claim and that the utility the individual derives from different decisions can always be computed into money equivalents.
11 The “skillfully chosen zero approximation to reality” was a reflection of Savage’s attempt to express and distinguish the epistemological position he had adopted from von Neumann. 12 In 1738, Bernoulli had argued that individuals base their choice between two or more (uncertain) outcomes not on the monetary or objective value of the outcomes but on their individual, subjective valuation of these outcomes. 13 10 11 12 13 A reference to the epi-cycle theory accounting for planets that deviated from the perfect circle orbit as predicted in the Ptolemaic system of astronomy, until Copernicus, Galileo, and Kepler put the sun instead of Earth at the center of the astronomical system.
Von Neumann and Morgenstern’s Hilbertian Mathematics 25 in the Theory of Games and Economic Behavior. Consider, for instance, the following exposition of their choice of axioms: A choice of axioms is not a purely objective task. It is usually expected to achieve some definite aim – some specific theorem or theorems are to be derivable from the axioms – and to this extent the problem is exact and objective. But beyond this there are always other important desiderata of a less exact nature: The axioms should not be too numerous, their system is to be as simple and transparent as possible, and each axiom should have an immediate intuitive meaning by which its appropriateness may be judged directly [fn].
Behavioral Economics: A History by Heukelom F.
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