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Utilitarianism and anti-utilitarianism

  • Antoinette Baujard

    (GATE Lyon Saint-Etienne - Groupe d'analyse et de théorie économique - CNRS : UMR5824 - Université Lumière - Lyon II - École Normale Supérieure (ENS) - 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. 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.
  2. repec:cup:cbooks:9781107695122 is not listed on IDEAS
  3. 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.
  4. Sen, Amartya Kumar, 1970. "The Impossibility of a Paretian Liberal," Scholarly Articles 3612779, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. 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..
  9. Haslett, D. W., 1990. "What is Utility?," Economics and Philosophy, Cambridge University Press, vol. 6(01), pages 65-94, April.
  10. repec:cup:cbooks:9780521555838 is not listed on IDEAS
  11. Antoinette Baujard, 2013. "Value judgments and economics expertise," Working Papers 1314, Groupe d'Analyse et de Théorie Economique (GATE), Centre national de la recherche scientifique (CNRS), Université Lyon 2, Ecole Normale Supérieure.
  12. repec:cup:cbooks:9781107015432 is not listed on IDEAS
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