Utility theory and ethics

In Salvador Barbera, Paul Hammond & Christian Seidl (eds.), Handbook of Utility Theory Volume1: Principles. Dordrecht: Kluwer Academic Publishers. pp. 371-481 (1998)
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Abstract
This chapter of the Handbook of Utility Theory aims at covering the connections between utility theory and social ethics. The chapter first discusses the philosophical interpretations of utility functions, then explains how social choice theory uses them to represent interpersonal comparisons of welfare in either utilitarian or non-utilitarian representations of social preferences. The chapter also contains an extensive account of John Harsanyi's formal reconstruction of utilitarianism and its developments in the later literature, especially when society faces uncertainty rather than probabilistic risk.
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