Continuity and catastrophic risk

Economics and Philosophy 38 (2):266-274 (2022)
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Suppose that a decision-maker's aim, under certainty, is to maximise some continuous value, such as lifetime income or continuous social welfare. Can such a decision-maker rationally satisfy what has been called "continuity for easy cases" while at the same time satisfying what seems to be a widespread intuition against the full-blown continuity axiom of expected utility theory? In this note I argue that the answer is "no": given transitivity and a weak trade-off principle, continuity for easy cases violates the anti-continuity intuition. I end the note by exploring an even weaker continuity condition that is consistent with the aforementioned intuition.

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H. Orri Stefansson
Stockholm University


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