WP 2020-16 Experimental Design and Bayesian Interpretation

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Prepared for H. Kincaid and D. Ross (eds.), Modern Guide to the Philosophy of Economics (Cheltenham, UK: Elgar, forthcoming 2021).

AUTHORS: Glenn W. Harrison

ABSTRACT: If we take seriously the intent to improve welfare for individuals with experimental interventions, then we must allow that we are also capable of doing harm in terms of welfare. The normative and ethical issues that arise for experimental design and interpretation lead to a derived demand for more economic theory to be used, and rigorous econometric methods. We need to work out how to do behavioral welfare economics in a rigorous and general manner, and we need to consistently apply Bayesian inference methods to avoid the application of dogmatic or ad hoc priors.