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Utilitarianism and anti-utilitarianism

  • Antoinette Baujard


    (GATE - GATE Lyon Saint-Étienne - Groupe d'analyse et de théorie économique - CNRS - UCBL - Université Claude Bernard Lyon 1 - UL2 - Université Lumière - Lyon 2 - Université Jean Monnet - Saint-Etienne - PRES Université de Lyon - ENS Lyon - École normale supérieure - Lyon)

This paper presents the different utilitarian approaches to ethics. It stresses the influence of utilitarianism in economics in general and in welfare economics in particular. The key idea of the paper to explain the evolution from classical utilitarianism to preferences utilitarianism and towards post-welfarist approaches is the following. Utility is defi-ned normatively and positively. This generates some serious tensions. Utilitarianism needs to evolve to go beyond this ethical tension. Another idea defended in this paper is that the solutions developed by utilitarianism to solve the ethical issue eventually reinforces operational problems. This raises a legitimacy issue as whether the intervention of utilitarian economists in public decision are likely to be normatively transparent.

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Paper provided by HAL in its series Working Papers with number halshs-00906899.

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Date of creation: 20 Nov 2013
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Handle: RePEc:hal:wpaper:halshs-00906899
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  1. John C. Harsanyi, 1953. "Cardinal Utility in Welfare Economics and in the Theory of Risk-taking," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 61, pages 434.
  2. 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.
  3. Antoinette Baujard, 2009. "A return to Bentham's felicific calculus: From moral welfarism to technical non-welfarism," The European Journal of the History of Economic Thought, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 16(3), pages 431-453.
  4. Sen, Amartya Kumar, 1970. "The Impossibility of a Paretian Liberal," Scholarly Articles 3612779, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  5. Antoinette Baujard, 2013. "Value judgments and economics expertise," Working Papers halshs-00803552, HAL.
  6. Skyrms,Brian, 1996. "Evolution of the Social Contract," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521555838.
  7. Sen, Amartya, 1970. "The Impossibility of a Paretian Liberal," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 78(1), pages 152-57, Jan.-Feb..
  8. Antoinette Baujard, 2013. "Welfare economics," Working Papers 1333, Groupe d'Analyse et de Théorie Economique (GATE), Centre national de la recherche scientifique (CNRS), Université Lyon 2, Ecole Normale Supérieure.
  9. Haslett, D. W., 1990. "What is Utility?," Economics and Philosophy, Cambridge University Press, vol. 6(01), pages 65-94, April.
  10. Jevons, William Stanley, 1871. "The Theory of Political Economy," History of Economic Thought Books, McMaster University Archive for the History of Economic Thought, number jevons1871.
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