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Choice - Based Cardinal Utility. A Tribute to Patrick Suppes

Journal of Economic Methodology, Forthcoming

HEC Paris Research Paper No. ECO/SCD-2016-1125

28 Pages Posted: 7 Jan 2016 Last revised: 4 Jul 2016

Jean Baccelli

Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich

Philippe Mongin

GREGHEC, CNRS; HEC Paris - Economics & Decision Sciences

Date Written: June 8, 2016

Abstract

We reexamine some of the classic problems connected with the use of cardinal utility functions in decision theory, and discuss Patrick Suppes's contributions to this field in light of a reinterpretation we propose for these problems. We analytically decompose the doctrine of ordinalism, which only accepts ordinal utility functions, and distinguish between several doctrines of cardinalism, depending on what components of ordinalism they specifically reject. We identify Suppes's doctrine with the major deviation from ordinalism that conceives of utility functions as representing preference differences, while being nonetheless empirically related to choices. We highlight the originality, promises and limits of this choice-based cardinalism.

Keywords: Ordinal utility, Cardinal utility, Preference differences, Representation theorems, Suppes, Ordinalism, Cardinalism

JEL Classification: B21, B31, C02, D01

Suggested Citation

Baccelli, Jean and Mongin, Philippe, Choice - Based Cardinal Utility. A Tribute to Patrick Suppes (June 8, 2016). Journal of Economic Methodology, Forthcoming; HEC Paris Research Paper No. ECO/SCD-2016-1125 . Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2711256

Jean Baccelli

Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich ( email )

Geschwister-Scholl-Platz 1
Munich, Bavaria 80539
Germany

Philippe Mongin (Contact Author)

GREGHEC, CNRS ( email )

1 rue de la Libération
Jouy-en-Josas, 78350
France

HEC Paris - Economics & Decision Sciences ( email )

Paris
France

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