Measurement Theory and the Foundations of Utilitarianism
This article reconsiders the Harsanyi--Sen debate concerning whether Harsanyi is justified in interpreting his Aggregation and Impartial Observer Theorems as providing axiomatizations of utilitarianism. Sen's criticism and its formalization by Weymark are based on the claim that von Neumann--Morgenstern utility theory is ordinal, whereas Harsanyi's utilitarian conclusions require cardinal utility. Proposals for overcoming Sen's objection that appeal to formal measurement theory are considered. It is argued that one of these proposals due to Broome and Risse rightly points to a feature of expected utility theory that was ignored by Sen and Weymark, but that this proposal does not provide a normatively compelling justification for cardinal utility. The other proposal due to Broome is shown to make use of a strength of preference relation in addition to the axioms of expected utility theory.
|Date of creation:||Apr 2005|
|Contact details of provider:|| Web page: http://www.vanderbilt.edu/econ/wparchive/index.html|
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.:
- 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.
- Peter J. Hammond & Claude d'Aspremont, 2001. "An interview with John C. Harsanyi," Social Choice and Welfare, Springer;The Society for Social Choice and Welfare, vol. 18(3), pages 389-401.
- Marcus Fleming, 1952. "A Cardinal Concept of Welfare," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 66(3), pages 366-384.
- 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 434-434.
- Mandler, Michael, 2001.
"Dilemmas in Economic Theory: Persisting Foundational Problems of Microeconomics,"
Oxford University Press, number 9780195145755.
- Mandler, Michael, 1999. "Dilemmas in Economic Theory: Persisting Foundational Problems in Microeconomics," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780195100877.
- MONGIN, Philippe & d'ASPREMONT, Claude, "undated". "Utility theory and ethics," CORE Discussion Papers RP 1423, Université catholique de Louvain, Center for Operations Research and Econometrics (CORE).
- MONGIN, Philippe & d ASPREMONT, Claude, 1996. "Utility theory and ethics," CORE Discussion Papers 1996063, Université catholique de Louvain, Center for Operations Research and Econometrics (CORE).
- Mongin, P & d'Aspremont, C, 1996. "Utility Theory and Ethics," Papers 9632, Paris X - Nanterre, U.F.R. de Sc. Ec. Gest. Maths Infor..
- P. Mongin & C. d'Aspremont, 1996. "Utility theory and ethics," THEMA Working Papers 96-32, THEMA (THéorie Economique, Modélisation et Applications), Université de Cergy-Pontoise.
- John C. Harsanyi, 1955. "Cardinal Welfare, Individualistic Ethics, and Interpersonal Comparisons of Utility," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 63, pages 309-309.
- Fishburn, Peter C, 1989. "Retrospective on the Utility Theory of von Neumann and Morgenstern," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 2(2), pages 127-157, June.
- Milton Friedman & L. J. Savage, 1952. "The Expected-Utility Hypothesis and the Measurability of Utility," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 60, pages 463-463.
- Milton Friedman & L. J. Savage, 1948. "The Utility Analysis of Choices Involving Risk," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 56, pages 279-279.
- Allais Maurice, 1990. "Cardinal Utility," Journal des Economistes et des Etudes Humaines, De Gruyter, vol. 1(2), pages 1-38, June.
- Marc Fleurbaey & Maurice Salles & John Weymark, 2008. "Justice, Political Liberalism and Utilitarianism," Post-Print hal-00246415, HAL. Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)