Principled Utility Discounting Under Risk

Moral Philosophy and Politics 6 (1):89-112 (2019)
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Abstract

Utility discounting in intertemporal economic modelling has been viewed as problematic, both for descriptive and normative reasons. However, positive utility discount rates can be defended normatively; in particular, it is rational for future utility to be discounted to take into account model-independent outcomes when decision-making under risk. The resultant values will tend to be smaller than descriptive rates under most probability assignments. This also allows us to address some objections that intertemporal considerations will be overdemanding. A principle for utility discount rates is suggested which is rooted in probability discounting. Utility discounting is defended against objections from Parfit (1984) and Broome (2005); Broome (2012). A sample utility discount rate is estimated. [Open access]

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Kian Mintz-Woo
University College, Cork

Citations of this work

Intergenerational justice.Lukas Meyer - 2008 - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
Time discounting, consistency, and special obligations: a defence of Robust Temporalism.Harry R. Lloyd - 2021 - Global Priorities Institute, Working Papers 2021 (11):1-38.

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References found in this work

Reasons and Persons.Derek Parfit - 1984 - Oxford, GB: Oxford University Press.
The Methods of Ethics.Henry Sidgwick - 1874 - Bristol, U.K.: Cambridge University Press. Edited by Emily Elizabeth Constance Jones.
Practical Ethics.Peter Singer - 1979 - Philosophy 56 (216):267-268.

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