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|
References listed on IDEAS
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.:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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, 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, P & d'Aspremont, C, 1996. "Utility Theory and Ethics," Papers 9632, Paris X - Nanterre, U.F.R. de Sc. Ec. Gest. Maths Infor..
- 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.
- Marc Fleurbaey & Maurice Salles & John Weymark, 2008. "Justice, Political Liberalism and Utilitarianism," Post-Print hal-00246415, HAL.
- 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.
- 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.
When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:van:wpaper:0507. 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: (John P. Conley)
If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.