Economic Theory & Morality Discussion

Economic Theory & Morality Discussion:

Economic Theory & Morality Discussion: Self-­-Deception, Strategic Ignorance, etc.
* Who wants to start us off? What thoughts did you have as you read these papers?
* What effect has these papers had on your thinking? What did you learn or what new
thoughts did you generate while reading these papers?
Rabin (1995) [This was not assigned, but presented in class]
* Is it most natural to think of moral dispositions as constraints or as preferences?
* Is either the morality as constraints or as preferences interpretation more plausible?
Could it be both and what does that look like?
* Do you believe that Moral Priming could work? When or how?
*What biases enter when agents choose the level of their information?
* Does the presence or awareness (even lack thereof) of these biases affect the moral
significance?
* How would you manage information if you were an all powerful central planner?
* Is the price or cost of information acquisition optimal or is there market failure? Positive
or negative externalities? Both?
DWK (2005) & vdW(2014)
*How would you play these games? How would you expect co-­-players to play the games
and why?
*What did you think of the way the experimenters manipulated payoffs in the various
treatments…do you believe they were able to isolate the particular behaviorally relevant
features they were after?
* In the vdW(2014) paper, did subjects know if co-­-players lost their show-­-up fee? (How)
does this matter?
* (When) is ignorance an excuse for immorality?
*Does one’s level of knowledge or ignorance have different moral importance depending on
whether the action is one of omission or commission?
* What about those who wished always to be selfish but also wanted to know how others
fared? Schadenfreude?
General Self-­-Deception and Strategic Ignorance:
*Under what circumstances can you imagine strategically making `poor’ decisions because
of a lack of information? Which economic or moral factors might affect your decision-­-
making and how?
* Does one’s level of information about a situation affect the moral significance of his or her
subsequent behavior?
* Does it matter if the level of information is chosen by the decision maker?
* Is seeking out full information about a situation an optional or obligatory act? What if
information acquisition is costly?
* How much information seeking is required of an individual before we can say they have
acted sufficiently? (what a reasonable person would do?).
* Is it blameworthy or praiseworthy to remain ignorant when information is available?
Suppose a co-­-worker is stealing but needs the money to pay medical bills for a dying child.
You suspect, but are not fully informed of the co-­-workers theft. If you become fully
informed you will be obligated to report. Is it morally praiseworthy or blameworthy for
you to remain ignorant? What preference structure might be consistent with this behavior?

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