The relevance of utilirianism
Author's abstract. Harsanyi invested his Aggregation Theorem and Impartial Observer Theorem with deep utilitarian sense, but Sen redescribed them as "representation theorems" with little ethical import. This negative view has gained wide acquiescence in economics. Against it, we support the utilitarian interpretation by a novel argument relative to the Aggregation Theorem. We suppose that a utilitarian observer evaluates non-risky alternatives by the sum of individual utilities and investigate his von Neumann-Morgenstern (VNM) preference on risky alternatives. Adding some technical assumptions to Harsanyi’s, we conclude that (i) this observer would use the utility sum as a VNM utility function, and crucially, (ii) any social observer would evaluate both risky and non-risky alternatives in terms of a weighted utility sum. Hence, pace Sen, VNM theory can give some interesting support to utilitarianism. The argument is conveyed by means of three theorems that encapsulate Harsanyi’s original one as a particular step.
|Date of creation:||26 Nov 2011|
|Date of revision:|
|Contact details of provider:|| Postal: HEC Paris, 78351 Jouy-en-Josas cedex, France|
Web page: http://www.hec.fr/
More information through EDIRC
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.:
- Marc Fleurbaey, 2010.
"Assessing Risky Social Situations,"
Journal of Political Economy,
University of Chicago Press, vol. 118(4), pages 649-680, 08.
- FLEURBAEY, Marc, . "Assessing risky social situations," CORE Discussion Papers RP 2289, Université catholique de Louvain, Center for Operations Research and Econometrics (CORE).
- Marc Fleurbaey, 2009. "Assessing risky social situations," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 27006, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
- Marc Fleurbaey, 2007. "Assessing Risky Social Situations," IDEP Working Papers 0703, Institut d'economie publique (IDEP), Marseille, France, revised Jan 2007.
- Bernard De Meyer & Philippe Mongin, 1995.
"A note on affine aggregation,"
Université Paris1 Panthéon-Sorbonne (Post-Print and Working Papers)
- DE MEYER, Bernard & MONGIN , Philippe, 1994. "A Note on Affine Aggregation," CORE Discussion Papers 1994014, Université catholique de Louvain, Center for Operations Research and Econometrics (CORE).
- De Meyer, B. & Mongin, P., . "A note on affine aggregation," CORE Discussion Papers RP 1136, Université catholique de Louvain, Center for Operations Research and Econometrics (CORE).
- Peter A. Diamond, 1967. "Cardinal Welfare, Individualistic Ethics, and Interpersonal Comparison of Utility: Comment," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 75, pages 765.
- Blackorby, Charles & Donaldson, David & Weymark, John A., 1999. "Harsanyi's social aggregation theorem for state-contingent alternatives1," Journal of Mathematical Economics, Elsevier, vol. 32(3), pages 365-387, November.
- Grandmont, Jean-Michel, 1972. "Continuity properties of a von Neumann-Morgenstern utility," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 4(1), pages 45-57, February.
- John C. Harsanyi, 1955. "Cardinal Welfare, Individualistic Ethics, and Interpersonal Comparisons of Utility," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 63, pages 309.
When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:ebg:heccah:0955. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.
For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Sandra Dupouy)
If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.