David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Jack Alan Reynolds
Learn more about PhilPapers
Erkenntnis 58 (2):229 - 260 (2003)
On the orthodox view in economics, interpersonal comparisons of utilityare not empirically meaningful, and ``hence'' impossible. To reassess this view, this paper draws onthe parallels between the problem of interpersonal comparisons of utility and the problem of translation of linguisticmeaning, as explored by Quine. I discuss several cases of what the empirical evidence for interpersonal comparisonsof utility might be and show that, even on the strongest of these, interpersonal comparisons are empiricallyunderdetermined and, if we also deny any appropriate truth of the matter, indeterminate. However, the underdeterminationcan be broken non-arbitrarily (though not purely empirically) if (i) we assign normative significance to certainstates of affairs or (ii) we posit a fixed connection between certain empirically observable proxies and utility.I conclude that, even if interpersonal comparisons are not empirically meaningful, they are not in principle impossible.
|Keywords||No keywords specified (fix it)|
|Categories||categorize this paper)|
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
No references found.
Citations of this work BETA
Krister Bykvist (2010). Can Unstable Preferences Provide a Stable Standard of Well-Being? Economics and Philosophy 26 (1):1-26.
Campbell Brown (2007). Prioritarianism for Variable Populations. Philosophical Studies 134 (3):325 - 361.
R. Duncan Luce (2010). Interpersonal Comparisons of Utility for 2 of 3 Types of People. Theory and Decision 68 (1-2):5-24.
Similar books and articles
Ian Carter (1995). Interpersonal Comparisons of Freedom. Economics and Philosophy 11 (01):1-.
JP Sevilla, Interpersonal Comparisons of Well-Being, the Evaluative Attitudes, and Type Correspondence Between Mind and Brain.
Ruth Weintraub (1996). The Impossibility of Interpersonal Utility Comparisons: A Critical Note. Mind 105 (420):661-665.
Alfred F. MacKay (1986). Extended Sympathy and Interpersonal Utility Comparisons. Journal of Philosophy 83 (6):305-322.
DM Hausman (1997). Discussion. The Impossibility of Interpersonal Utility Comparisons - a Reply. Mind 106 (421):99-100.
Daniel M. Hausman (1997). The Impossibility of Interpersonal Utility Comparisons--A Reply. Mind 106 (421):99-100.
Daniel M. Hausman (1995). The Impossibility of Interpersonal Utility Comparisons. Mind 104 (415):473-490.
Ilmar Waldner (1972). The Empirical Meaningfulness of Interpersonal Utility Comparisons. Journal of Philosophy 64 (4):87-103.
Mauro Rossi (2011). Transcendental Arguments and Interpersonal Utility Comparisons. Economics and Philosophy 27 (03):273-295.
Paul Weirich (1984). Interpersonal Utility in Principles of Social Choice. Erkenntnis 21 (3):295 - 317.
Added to index2009-01-28
Total downloads39 ( #43,844 of 1,101,622 )
Recent downloads (6 months)7 ( #35,036 of 1,101,622 )
How can I increase my downloads?