The Case for a Multiple-Utility Conception

Economics and Philosophy 2 (2):159 (1986)
In recent decades, neoclassical economists have made heroic efforts to accommodate within the confines of the concept of rational utility maximization the fact that individual behavior is significantly affected by moral considerations. This article argues the merits of using an alternative approach: recognizing that individuals pursue at least two irreducible sources of value or “utility”, pleasure and morality. The possibility that some additional utilities may have to be recognized is explored. This raises the concern that conceptual anarchy will break out, which in turn will force a search for a common denominator, and thus a return to one overarching utility. Arguments are presented to show that this concern is unfounded. The main focus of the article is a criticism of the monoutility conception and a brief for separating the sense of discharging one's moral obligations from all other satisfactions. The article first deals with general conceptual points, and then cites both everyday observations and empirical evidence in support of this position
Keywords No keywords specified (fix it)
Categories (categorize this paper)
DOI 10.1017/S1478061500002619
 Save to my reading list
Follow the author(s)
My bibliography
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Revision history Request removal from index
Download options
PhilPapers Archive

Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy on self-archival     Papers currently archived: 21,357
External links
Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
Through your library
References found in this work BETA
Ruth Benedict (1946). Patterns of Culture. Philosophical Review 55:497.

View all 9 references / Add more references

Citations of this work BETA
D. W. Haslett (1990). What is Utility? Economics and Philosophy 6 (1):65.

View all 14 citations / Add more citations

Similar books and articles

Monthly downloads

Added to index


Total downloads

11 ( #321,239 of 1,911,315 )

Recent downloads (6 months)

2 ( #320,535 of 1,911,315 )

How can I increase my downloads?

My notes
Sign in to use this feature

Start a new thread
There  are no threads in this forum
Nothing in this forum yet.