Some Considerations Regarding the Problem of Multidimensional Utility
AbstractThe concept of 'utility' is often used in ambiguous ways in economics, from having substantive psychological connotations to being a formal placeholder representing a person's preferences. In the accounts of the early utilitarians, it was a multidimensional measure that has been condensed during the marginalist revolution into the unidimensional measure we know today. But can we compare different pleasures? This paper assesses the evidence from psychology and neurosciences on how to best conceive of utility. It turns out that empirical evidence does not favor a view of multidimensional utility. This does not eliminate the possibility to make a normative argument supporting a multidimensional notion of utility.
Download InfoIf you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.
Bibliographic InfoPaper provided by Friedrich-Schiller-University Jena, Max-Planck-Institute of Economics in its series Jena Economic Research Papers with number 2009-099.
Date of creation: 08 Dec 2009
Date of revision:
utility; pleasures; neuroeconomics; multidimensionality of utility;
Find related papers by JEL classification:
- D87 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Neuroeconomics
- B41 - Schools of Economic Thought and Methodology - - Economic Methodology - - - Economic Methodology
- B12 - Schools of Economic Thought and Methodology - - History of Economic Thought through 1925 - - - Classical (includes Adam Smith)
This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:
- NEP-ALL-2009-12-11 (All new papers)
- NEP-HPE-2009-12-11 (History & Philosophy of Economics)
- NEP-UPT-2009-12-11 (Utility Models & Prospect Theory)
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:
- Luigino Bruni & Robert Sugden, 2007. "The road not taken: how psychology was removed from economics, and how it might be brought back," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 117(516), pages 146-173, 01.
- Dr. Peter Kenning & Hilke Plassmann, 2004. "NeuroEconomics," Experimental 0412005, EconWPA.
- George J. Stigler, 1950.
"The Development of Utility Theory. I,"
Journal of Political Economy,
University of Chicago Press, vol. 58, pages 307.
- Landreth, Anthony & Bickle, John, 2008. "Neuroeconomics, Neurophysiology And The Common Currency Hypothesis," Economics and Philosophy, Cambridge University Press, vol. 24(03), pages 419-429, November.
- Nick Hanley & Clive L Spash, 1993.
"Preferences, Information and Biodiversity Preservation,"
Working Papers Series
93/12, University of Stirling, Division of Economics.
- Spash, Clive L. & Hanley, Nick, 1995. "Preferences, information and biodiversity preservation," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 12(3), pages 191-208, March.
- Spash, Clive L. & Hanley, N, 1994. "Preferences, information and biodiversity preservation," MPRA Paper 38351, University Library of Munich, Germany.
- Charles Blackorby & Walter Bossert & David Donaldson, 2005.
"Multi-profile welfarism: A generalization,"
Social Choice and Welfare,
Springer, vol. 24(2), pages 253-267, 04.
- Blackorby, Charles & Bossert, Walter & Donaldson, David, 2004. "Multi-Profile Welfarism : A Generalisation," The Warwick Economics Research Paper Series (TWERPS) 710, University of Warwick, Department of Economics.
- McCabe, Kevin A., 2008. "Neuroeconomics And The Economic Sciences," Economics and Philosophy, Cambridge University Press, vol. 24(03), pages 345-368, November.
- Broome, John, 1991. "A Reply to Sen," Economics and Philosophy, Cambridge University Press, vol. 7(02), pages 285-287, October.
- Knetsch, Jack L., 1992. "Preferences and nonreversibility of indifference curves," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 17(1), pages 131-139, January.
- Christian List, 2004. "Multidimensional Welfare Aggregation," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 119(1_2), pages 119-142, 04.
- Kahneman, Daniel & Wakker, Peter P & Sarin, Rakesh, 1997. "Back to Bentham? Explorations of Experienced Utility," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 112(2), pages 375-405, May.
- Sen, Amartya K, 1973. "Behaviour and the Concept of Preference," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 40(159), pages 241-59, August.
- Knutson, Brian & Peterson, Richard, 2005. "Neurally reconstructing expected utility," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 52(2), pages 305-315, August.
For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Markus Pasche).
If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.