The New Palgrave Dictionary of Economics

2018 Edition
| Editors: Macmillan Publishers Ltd


  • R. D. Collison Black
Reference work entry


Utility is a term which has a long history in connection with the attempts of philosophers and political economists to explain the phenomenon of value. It has most frequently been given the connotation of ‘desiredness’, or the capacity of a good or service to satisfy a want, of whatever kind. Its use with that meaning can be traced back at least to Gershom Carmichael’s 1724 edition of Pufendorf’s De Officio Hominis et Civis Iuxta Legam Naturalem, and arguably came down to him through the medieval schoolmen from Aristotle’s Politics.


Cardinal utility Classical theory of value Consumer surplus Cost of production Demand Diminishing marginal utility Dupuit, A.-J.-E.J. Edgeworth, F. Y. Exchange Exchange value Gossen, H. H. Hicks, J. R. Interpersonal utility comparisons Jevons, W. S. Marginal revolution Marginal utility Market price Marshall, A. Menger, C. Natural price Ordinal utility Pareto, V. Pigou, A. C. Price theory Revealed preference theory Use value Utility Value Walras, L. 

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Authors and Affiliations

  • R. D. Collison Black
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