Measures of Freedom of Choice

University dissertation from Uppsala : Uppsala universitet

Abstract: This thesis studies the problem of measuring freedom of choice. It analyzes the concept of freedom of choice, discusses conditions that a measure should satisfy, and introduces a new class of measures that uniquely satisfy ten proposed conditions. The study uses a decision-theoretical model to represent situations of choice and a metric space model to represent differences between options.The first part of the thesis analyzes the concept of freedom of choice. Different conceptions of freedom of choice are categorized into evaluative and non-evaluative, as well as preference-dependent and preference-independent kinds. The main focus is on the three conceptions of freedom of choice as cardinality of choice sets, representativeness of the universal set, and diversity of options, as well as the three conceptions of freedom of rational choice, freedom of eligible choice, and freedom of evaluated choice.The second part discusses the conceptions, together with conditions for a measure and a variety of measures proposed in the literature. The discussion mostly focuses on preference-independent conceptions of freedom of choice, in particular the diversity conception. Different conceptions of diversity are discussed, as well as properties that could affect diversity, such as the cardinality of options, the differences between the options, and the distribution of differences between the options. As a result, the diversity conception is accepted as the proper explication of the concept of freedom of choice. In addition, eight conditions for a measure are accepted. The conditions concern domain-insensitivity, strict monotonicity, no-choice situations, dominance of differences, evenness, symmetry, spread of options, and limited function growth. None of the previously proposed measures satisfy all of these conditions.The third part concerns the construction of a ratio-scale measure that satisfies the accepted conditions. Two conditions are added regarding scale-independence and function growth proportional to cardinality. Lastly, it is shown that only one class of measures satisfy all ten conditions, given an additional assumption that the measures should be analytic functions with non-zero partial derivatives with respect to some function of the differences. These measures are introduced as the Ratio root measures.