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The Problem with Utility: Towards a Non-Consequentialist / Utility Theory Synthesis

  • Alanson P. Minkler

    (University of Connecticut)

I develop the argument that our current decision-making framework, utility theory, when used by itself, is 1) descriptively incomplete, 2) theoretically flawed, and 2) ethically questionable. In response, I offer an exploratory framework that incorporates both consequentialist and non-consequentialist motivations. Adding a commitment function provides a synthesis which remedies the problems associated with the sole use of utility theory. Finally, I show how philosophers Immanuel Kant, W.D. Ross, and Martin Buber provide an ethical basis for the framework.

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File URL: http://web2.uconn.edu/economics/working/1997-09.pdf
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Paper provided by University of Connecticut, Department of Economics in its series Working papers with number 1997-09.

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Length: 22 pages
Date of creation: Aug 1997
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:uct:uconnp:1997-09
Contact details of provider: Postal: University of Connecticut 365 Fairfield Way, Unit 1063 Storrs, CT 06269-1063
Phone: (860) 486-4889
Fax: (860) 486-4463
Web page: http://www.econ.uconn.edu/

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  1. Hausman, Daniel M & McPherson, Michael S, 1993. "Taking Ethics Seriously: Economics and Contemporary Moral Philosophy," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 31(2), pages 671-731, June.
  2. Klein, Benjamin & Crawford, Robert G & Alchian, Armen A, 1978. "Vertical Integration, Appropriable Rents, and the Competitive Contracting Process," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 21(2), pages 297-326, October.
  3. David E. M. Sappington, 1991. "Incentives in Principal-Agent Relationships," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 5(2), pages 45-66, Spring.
  4. John Conlisk, 1996. "Why Bounded Rationality?," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 34(2), pages 669-700, June.
  5. Etzioni, Amitai, 1986. "The Case for a Multiple-Utility Conception," Economics and Philosophy, Cambridge University Press, vol. 2(02), pages 159-184, October.
  6. Brennan, Timothy J., 1989. "A Methodological Assessment of Multiple Utility Frameworks," Economics and Philosophy, Cambridge University Press, vol. 5(02), pages 189-208, October.
  7. Heiner, Ronald A, 1983. "The Origin of Predictable Behavior," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 73(4), pages 560-95, September.
  8. Armen A. Alchian & Harold Demsetz, 1971. "Production, Information Costs and Economic Organizations," UCLA Economics Working Papers 10A, UCLA Department of Economics.
  9. Lutz, Mark A., 1993. "The Utility of Multiple Utility: A Comment on Brennan," Economics and Philosophy, Cambridge University Press, vol. 9(01), pages 145-154, April.
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