Utilitarianism and Anti-Utilitarianism

GATE Working Paper No. 1332

23 Pages Posted: 21 Nov 2013

See all articles by Antoinette Baujard

Antoinette Baujard

University of Lyon 2 - Groupe d'Analyse et de Théorie Economique (GATE)

Date Written: November 8, 2013


This paper presents the different utilitarian approaches to ethics. It stresses the influence of utilitarianism in economics in general and in welfare economics in particular. The key idea of the paper to explain the evolution from classical utilitarianism to preferences utilitarianism and towards post-welfarist approaches is the following. Utility is defined normatively and positively. This generates some serious tensions. Utilitarianism needs to evolve to go beyond this ethical tension. Another idea defended in this paper is that the solutions developed by utilitarianism to solve the ethical issue eventually reinforces operational problems. This raises a legitimacy issue as whether the intervention of utilitarian economists in public decision are likely to be normatively transparent.

Keywords: Utilitarianism, Welfarism, Hedonism, Preference, Utility

JEL Classification: A13, A33, B10, B2, D63

Suggested Citation

Baujard, Antoinette, Utilitarianism and Anti-Utilitarianism (November 8, 2013). GATE Working Paper No. 1332, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2357441 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2357441

Antoinette Baujard (Contact Author)

University of Lyon 2 - Groupe d'Analyse et de Théorie Economique (GATE) ( email )

93 chemin des Mouilles
Ecully, 69130

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