, Volume 26, Issue 1, pp 31-45
Date: 02 Mar 2006

Measuring autonomy freedom

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Abstract

In the measurement of autonomy freedom, the admissible potential preference relations are elicited by means of the concept of ‘reasonableness’. In this paper we argue for an alternative criterion based on information about the decision maker’s ‘awareness’ of his available opportunities. We argue that such an interpretation of autonomy fares better than that based on reasonableness. We then introduce some axioms that capture this intuition and study their logical implications. In the process, a new measure of autonomy freedom is characterized, which generalizes some of the measures so far constructed in the literature.

We thank Martin van Hees, Robert Sugden, Prasanta Pattanaik, the participants at workshops at the CPNSS, London School of Economics, and at the University of Caen and an anonymous referee for their suggestions. The support of the CPNSS is gratefully acknowledged. This paper is part of a research project on “The Analysis and Measurement of Freedom” funded by the Ministero dell’Istruzione, Università e Ricerca (Italy). Its financial support is gratefully acknowledged.