Interpersonally Comparable Utility

  • Marc Fleurbaey
  • Peter J. Hammond
Chapter

Abstract

Over many years, interpersonal comparisons of utility have had a significant role to play in economics. Utility began as a basic concept on which Prances Hutcheson, Cesare Beccarla, Jeremy Bentham, John Stuart Mill, and Henry Sidgwick sought to build a general ethical theory that is simple yet profound. The resulting classical utilitarian theory relied on interpersonal comparisons because it required a common unit with which to measure each person’s pleasure or happiness, before adding to arrive at a measure of total happiness. According to the standard reading of Bentham, one should then proceed to subtract each person’s pain or misery, also measured in the same common unit, in order to arrive at a measure of total utility.1

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2004

Authors and Affiliations

  • Marc Fleurbaey
    • 1
  • Peter J. Hammond
    • 2
  1. 1.Université de PauFrance
  2. 2.Stanford UniversityUSA

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