Methodological Issues in the Economics of Preferences and Beliefs About Risk

Posted On November 8, 2021

April 25, 2022 – April 27, 2022

Cork, Ireland

Program 

General Information

There are many aspects of the economics of risk that would benefit from more explicit attention to methodology or reflection on insights from neighboring disciplines. This workshop considers some of those issues, and the need for that attention. It focuses on recent research by CEAR-affiliated scholars.

One general issue is the normative evaluation of observed behavior involving risk. This implicates not only behavioral welfare economics, but in addition the deeper question of the sources of agents’ beliefs and preferences about risky prospects. Here the Intentional Stance of Daniel Dennett can be applied to understand how a sophisticated form of revealed preference theory can anchor normative judgments in empirical observations of behavioral patterns. Bayesian hierarchical methods are playing a key role in allowing quantitative inferences at the individual level to be informed by estimations at aggregated levels.

Related issues arise when we consider the elicitation of risk preferences from non-human agents, such as elephants. Here dependence on behavioral evidence is obvious, and careful use of the intentional stance, to identify beliefs and preferences of subjects who cannot directly state them, may be indispensable.

The elicitation of social norms also poses methodological challenges. Analyses by philosophers of the concept of a social norm exist, and are increasingly applied by economists, but translating those into practical measurement presents challenges that the economic literature to date mainly ignores. Again, both the intentional stance and Bayesian inference can provide key theoretical leverage. As extensions of the intentional stance, ‘mindshaping’ models from cognitive science provide structure for understanding the entanglement of social norms with the identification of beliefs and preferences under risk and uncertainty. Conditional Game Theory is the formal theory of mindshaping.

Keynote Speaker

The keynote will be by Daniel C. Dennett of Tufts University, one of the most eminent theorists in the history of cognitive and behavioral science. More information and links to some of his work can be found on https://ase.tufts.edu/cogstud/dennett/. Especially relevant to the themes of our conference are The Intentional Stance (1987), and From Bacteria to Bach and Back (2017).

Confirmed Participants

Other participants confirmed to date are Glenn W. Harrison, Andre Hofmeyr, Harold Kincaid, Brian Monroe, Karlijn Morsink, Don Ross, Elisabet Rutström, Mark Schneider, Wynn C. Stirling, J. Todd Swarthout, Luca Tummolini, and Tadeusz Zawidzki.

Organizers
Glenn Harrison (CEAR, Georgia State University) and Don Ross (University College Cork, University of Cape Town, and CEAR) are the organizers of this workshop. This workshop is invitation only. For information, contact Glenn Harrison at gharrison@gsu.edu or Don Ross at don.ross931@gmail.com.

Sponsors and Funding

The conference is sponsored and funded by the Center for the Economic Analysis of Risk (CEAR), located in the J. Mack Robinson College of Business at Georgia State University. Go to cear.gsu.edu for more information on CEAR. For more information on University College Cork (UCC) go to ucc.ie/en/.

Standard travel and accommodation support for paper presenters will be provided, and we will contact those parties directly for procedures and guidelines.

There will be meals provided throughout the conference. Please contact cear@gsu.edu should you have any dietary restrictions or needs.

Location

The workshop will be held at the Montenotte Hotel – https://www.themontenottehotel.com/. Presenters will also be accommodated at the Montenotte.

Cork is the Irish Republic’s second city, European headquarters of Apple and other major companies, and famous for traditional artisanal foods, Murphy’s and Beamish stout ales, and historic architecture.

Lodging

CEAR will book rooms at the Montenotte Hotel for presenters, and we will be in touch closer to the conference to obtain the exact room nights needed. We plan to pay for these nights in advance, so the only cost to you would be food and beverage charged to your room and any incidentals or additional services you might need.

Travel

*Please be aware that COVID protocols around the world may negate some of the information below that we normally include about travel.

Cork Airport is directly served from various airports in the United Kingdom, plus Amsterdam, Paris, and Munich. All major airline hubs abroad are connected to Dublin Airport, from which Cork is reached in about 3 hours by frequently-scheduled bus shuttle.

If one flies to Dublin with Aer Lingus or Delta, direct from the US, then on the return trip one clears US immigration in Ireland -- note that this does not apply to other U.S. carriers, as they route through Heathrow. KLM / Delta has direct flights from Amsterdam to Cork, but a more flexible schedule between Amsterdam and Dublin.