The Rational Ghost: Using Basic Economic Principles

April 23, 2009

posted by Caroline Picard

I came across this curious paper by Joab Corey (University of West Virginia, Department of Economics) while doing research. I thought I would just post the Abstract here, which may in and of itself be sufficiently interesting, however if you feel like reading the whole thing you can find it by uploading therationalghost.

got-ghosts-00

Abstract

The idea of ghosts and spiritual beings often automatically instill fear in some people, but this need not be the case.  If ghosts do indeed exist then there would still be no need to fear them, at least not any more than any living entity.  If ghosts are rational economic actors then ghosts would have no incentive to severely disturb the living population as it is likely that the costs to the ghost of killing an individual outweigh the benefits.  When a ghost kills an individual then that individual could then conceivably turn into a ghost and, as a ghost, annoy its phantom killer for an even longer time period than if left alive.  A ghost would be much better off being annoyed by a living entity for the comparably short period of time of that person’s lifespan rather then to kill that individual and, by doing so, inducing that person to seek retribution in the afterlife.  This paper provides research to show that ghosts are indeed rational actors and, as such, refrain from the practice of killing living entities.  The paper concludes by discussing the impact that this result could have on the housing market.

 

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