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The independence axiom of expected utility theory offers a compelling reason for making a decision. According to this axiom, a choice between two alternatives should depend only on features in which alternatives differ but not on features in which the alternatives are equal. Any feature that is the same for both alternatives, therefore, should not influence the choice a rational person makes. For instance, when choosing between two therapies with exactly the same side effects, a rational doctor would ignore these side effects. That is, rational choice is independent of the alternatives' shared features.

This axiom seems very intuitive; if two therapies have the same side effects, it does not matter whether they are small or severe. Hence, rational decision makers base their choices on ...

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