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Vol. 72, No. 2, pp. 169-193 (2021)

“Where Game Theory Meets Social Choice Theory: Reflections on the Methodology of Normative Economics”
Reiko Gotoh (Institute of Economic Research, Hitotsubashi University), Akira Okada (Professor Emeritus, Hitotsubashi University)

This paper examines the problem of the disjunction of epistemological and moral theses left by Hume and Rousseau, using the prisoner's dilemma and the liberal paradox posed by the game theory and the social choice theory as a combination mirror. It sharply exposes the intractable problems left by modernity, the conflict between prudence and justice, and the contradiction between cognition and action. This paper questions the reach and limits of empirical science, which tends to lean toward a monic approach (causal necessity), and explores the validity and feasibility of a pluralistic approach to norms. More specifically, the following points will be clarified. Morality and ethics as personal goals may result in imposing asymmetrical disadvantages on specific individuals, with their consent and acceptance. An analysis based on a one-dimensional utility index may mask injustices that should be present. The key to preventing this lies in respecting the pluralism in the evaluation of the preferences of individuals, who are interest agencies, cognitive agencies, and action agencies. A theory that clearly shows where the problems are and how to solve them will help diverse individuals to re-describe their own particular problematic situations in terms of certain models and categories, and thereby to bring their personal problems to public debate as more universal problems.