4

Utilitarianism

4.1 Revealed Preference in Social Choice

Until relatively recently, it was an article of faith among economists that one can’t make meaningful comparisons of the utilities that different people may enjoy. This chapter is a good one to skip if you don’t care about this question.

Social choice. The theory of social choice is about how groups of people make decisions collectively. This chapter is an aside on the implications of applying the theory of revealed preference to such a social context. Even in the case of a utilitarian government, we shall therefore be restricting our attention to notions of utility that make it fallacious to argue that policies are chosen because they maximize the sum of everyone’s utility. On the contrary, ...

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