Divergent mathematical treatments in utility theory

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Abstract

In this paper I study how divergent mathematical treatments affect mathematical modelling, with a special focus on utility theory. In particular I examine recent work on the ranking of information states and the discounting of future utilities, in order to show how, by replacing the standard analytical treatment of the models involved with one based on the framework of Nonstandard Analysis, diametrically opposite results are obtained. In both cases, the choice between the standard and nonstandard treatment amounts to a selection of set-theoretical parameters that cannot be made on purely empirical grounds. The analysis of this phenomenon gives rise to a simple logical account of the relativity of impossibility theorems in economic theory, which concludes the paper.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1287–1303
JournalErkenntnis
Volume81
Issue number6
Early online date14 Dec 2015
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2016

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