Better than free: why autonomy favours freedom, success and self

Workshop in Decisions, Games and Logic
London School of Economics, July 2007
Better than free:
why autonomy favours freedom,
success and self-esteem
Margherita Bottero
Stockholm Sch. Of Economics
Joint work with Sebastiano Bavetta and Pietro Navarra
Idea the more “free” an agent is the better
he performs in real-life tasks
Aim prove this relationship by means of
Autonomy as a measure of freedom
Target (if relationship true) practice of
economics: policy analysis and decisions
background issues
How to measure performances?
performance = “right” sequence of actions
How to measure freedom?
freedom = freedom of choice
metrics: Simple Cardinality Order (SCO) [Pattanaix, Xu, 1990]
or Preference Order
(PO) [Sen, 1991]
Autonomy Freedom
(AF) [Bavetta et alii,2000]
performance process
Action 1
Action 2
Action n
Same need might be satisfied by different performances
Same performance might be made up by different actions
1. actions might turn into failures
2. to succeed in the performance, each action has to be
successfully completed in the right order
autonomy freedom
having opportunities is a necessary condition for
choice (SCO and PO)
…but also…
choice is desirable because it fosters moral and
intellectual capacities (AF [building on Mill, 1859, Berlin, 1969])
Autonomy Freedom = freedom to rule, regulate
the main attraction […] is procedural in character
[Bavetta, Guala, 2003]
autonomy freedom
(a) axioms and ranking rules [Bavetta, Peragine, 2004]
(b) “some people feel they have completely free choice and
control over their lives, while other people feel that what
they do has no real effect on what happens to them.
Please use a ten-point scale in which 1 means none at
all and 10 means a great deal to indicate how much
freedom of choice and control you have over the way
your life turns out” [World Value Survey]
why autonomy?
• Operationally better than other existing
measures (SCO, PO)
• Procedural
• Features ground to support individual/
internal motivation and learning by doing
• Compatible with Attributional theory
[Heider, 1958,Rotter, 1966,Bem, 1967, Weiner et alii, 1971]
why autonomy favours freedom, success
and self-esteem:
autonomy, actions and
The general framework
• Outcomes Vs. Achievements: a procedural
• Course of Actions Vs. Performance
autonomy, actions and
The mechanics of the process
• Motivation [Fehr, Falk, 2002, Benabou, Tirole, 2003]
• Attribution theory and learning by doing
remarks and extensions
• Where next?
Some references
Bavetta and Guala. Autonomy freedom and deliberation. J. Theoret. Politics,
15:423–43, 2003.
Bavetta and Guala. Opportunities and Individuality: Their Value and
the Possibility of Measuring it. Mimeo, LSE.
Mill. On Liberty. John W. Parker and Son, 1859.
Pattanaik and Xu. On ranking opportunity sets in terms of freedom of choice.
Rechérches Economiques de Louvain, 56: 383–90, 1990.
Pattanaik and Xu. On preference and freedom. Th. and Dec., 44:173–98, 1998.
Sen. Freedom of choice: Concept and content. Eur. Econ. Rev., 32:269–94, 1988.
Sen. Welfare, preference and freedom. Jour of Econometrics, 50:15–29, 1991.
Sugden. The metric of opportunity. Econ. & Phil., 14: 307–37, 1998.
Sugden. Opportunity as a space for individuality: Its value and the
impossibility of measuring it. Ethics, 113:783–809, 2003.