Destructive policy

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What are destructive policies and how should policy makers be informed about them?




Let D be a set of policies, where a policy (d) is defined as a selection of plausible actions that can be taken together.

Let I be a population with individuals i. The population will be affected by the decisions made.

Let O be the outcomes of interest caused or promoted by the decisions made.

Let Ui be the legitimate utilities of the outcomes for individuals. Legitimate means that at the societal level, the population has decided that some utilities are not legitimate and thus are not considered. Such utilities are e.g. properties obtained by using crime. Also systemic and external impacts, such as climate and ecosystem impacts, are embedded in the utilities. Multiple minor impacts are shown by using Kantian ethics: what would the impact be if everyone did the same thing? Also, systemic disruptions are accounted for in such a way that the utilities will start falling rapidly if the risk of a systems failure increases. However, it is not yet clear how these functionalities will be implemented in practice.

A policy d1 is destructuve iff there exists a policy d2 for which the following is true for all i:

o E(Ui(O(d1))) < ∑o E(Ui(O(d2))),

where E is the expected value of a probability distribution.

In effect, destructive policies are Pareto dominated policies[1] with a special emphasis of the legitimacy of utilities. While utilities vary from person to person depending on their personal preferences, legitimacy is a social construct and dependent on time, culture, and legislation. While illegal benefits are obviously not legitimate, there are benefits that are culturally considered immoral or for some other reason not legitimate. However, one should be careful about declaring a utility to be culturally not legitimate, as often the agreement is not as clear-cut as one might think. One way to look at legitimacy is to consider whether an outcome is Pareto efficient and envy-free[2].

See also


  1. Wikipedia. Pareto efficiency. [1] accessed 2020-09-08
  2. Wikipedia. Efficient envy-free division. [2] accessed 2020-09-08