Edgeworth’s Mathematization of Social Well-Being

Studies in History and Philosophy of Science 103 (C):5-15 (2024)
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Abstract

Francis Ysidro Edgeworth’s unduly neglected monograph New and Old Methods of Ethics (1877) advances a highly sophisticated and mathematized account of social well-being in the utilitarian tradition of his 19th-century contemporaries. This article illustrates how his usage of the ‘calculus of variations’ was combined with findings from empirical psychology and economic theory to construct a consequentialist axiological framework. A conclusion is drawn that Edgeworth is a methodological predecessor to several important methods, ideas, and issues that continue to be discussed in contemporary social well-being studies.

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Adrian K. Yee
Lingnan University

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