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Integrity, Shame and Self-Rationalization, by Elias L. Khalil (Nov. 2003; Revised Feb. 2004)

In orthodox economics, honesty or integrity is treated as either part of the constraint function or the objective function. This is at the origin of the statement, “every man has his price.” However, if integrity has a price, why do agents experience shame when they sell it while they do not when they sell other possessions? If agents are rational, why do they resort to self-rationalization to avoid shame? The proposed view, called “quantum,” avoids these anomalies. Further, the quantum view avoids another set of anomalies that face heterodox models based on the multiple-self framework. The quantum view sheds light on heroism, self-identity, self-cheating (procrastination), etiquettes, taboos, and identity switch.

Working Paper (491 K, PDF)