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Interpersonal comparisons of utility: Why and how they are and should be made

In Jon Elster & John E. Roemer (eds.), Interpersonal Comparisons of Well-Being. Cambridge University Press. pp. 200--254 (1991)

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  1. Interpersonal Comparisons of Utility for 2 of 3 Types of People.R. Duncan Luce - 2010 - Theory and Decision 68 (1-2):5-24.
    This article argues that there is a natural solution to carry out interpersonal comparisons of utility when the theory of gambles is supplemented with a group operation of joint receipts. If so, three types of people can exist, and the two types having multiplicative representations of joint receipt have, in contrast to most utility theories, absolute scales of utility. This makes possible, at least in principle, meaningful interpersonal comparisons of utility with desirable properties, thus resolving a long standing philosophical problem (...)
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  • A Concept of Progress for Normative Economics.Philippe Mongin - 2006 - Economics and Philosophy 22 (1):19-54.
    The paper discusses the sense in which the changes undergone by normative economics in the twentieth century can be said to be progressive. A simple criterion is proposed to decide whether a sequence of normative theories is progressive. This criterion is put to use on the historical transition from the new welfare economics to social choice theory. The paper reconstructs this classic case, and eventually concludes that the latter theory was progressive compared with the former. It also briefly comments on (...)
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  • On the Problematic Link Between Fundamental Ethics and Economic Policy Recommendations.Olof Johansson-Stenman - 1998 - Journal of Economic Methodology 5 (2):263-297.
    This paper provides a systematic survey of major simplifying assumptions that economists make, and often have to make, in order to obtain a useful theory for policy recommendations in practice. The aim is to consider the whole chain of assumptions with an emphasis on such simplifications that economists sometimes tend to ignore (at worst), or at best often tend not to take very seriously. The paper concludes that the link from fundamental ethics to economic policy recommendations is often very fragile, (...)
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  • Strategic Interdependence, Hypothetical Bargaining, and Mutual Advantage in Non-Cooperative Games.Mantas Radzvilas - unknown
    One of the conceptual limitations of the orthodox game theory is its inability to offer definitive theoretical predictions concerning the outcomes of noncooperative games with multiple rationalizable outcomes. This prompted the emergence of goal-directed theories of reasoning – the team reasoning theory and the theory of hypothetical bargaining. Both theories suggest that people resolve non-cooperative games by using a reasoning algorithm which allows them to identify mutually advantageous solutions of non-cooperative games. The primary aim of this thesis is to enrich (...)
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  • Relative Benefit Equilibrating Bargaining Solution and the Ordinal Interpretation of Gauthier's Arbitration Scheme.Mantas Radzvilas - unknown
    In 1986 David Gauthier proposed an arbitration scheme for two player cardinal bargaining games based on interpersonal comparisons of players’ relative concessions. In Gauthier’s original arbitration scheme, players’ relative concessions are defined in terms of Raiffa-normalized cardinal utility gains, and so it cannot be directly applied to ordinal bargaining problems. In this paper I propose a relative benefit equilibrating bargaining solution for two and n-player ordinal and quasiconvex ordinal bargaining problems with finite sets of feasible basic agreements based on the (...)
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  • Transformative Experience and Interpersonal Utility Comparisons.Rachael Briggs - 2015 - Res Philosophica 92 (2):189-216.
  • What Will Be Best for Me? Big Decisions and the Problem of Inter‐World Comparisons.Peter Baumann - 2018 - Dialectica 72 (2):253-273.
    Big decisions in a person’s life often affect the preferences and standards of a good life which that person’s future self will develop after implementing her decision. This paper argues that in such cases the person might lack any reasons to choose one way rather than the other. Neither preference-based views nor happiness-based views of justified choice offer sufficient help here. The available options are not comparable in the relevant sense and there is no rational choice to make. Thus, ironically, (...)
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  • Formalizing Preference Utilitarianism in Physical World Models.Caspar Oesterheld - 2016 - Synthese 193 (9).
    Most ethical work is done at a low level of formality. This makes practical moral questions inaccessible to formal and natural sciences and can lead to misunderstandings in ethical discussion. In this paper, we use Bayesian inference to introduce a formalization of preference utilitarianism in physical world models, specifically cellular automata. Even though our formalization is not immediately applicable, it is a first step in providing ethics and ultimately the question of how to “make the world better” with a formal (...)
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  • Extended Preferences and Interpersonal Comparisons of Well‐Being.Hilary Greaves & Harvey Lederman - 2016 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research:636-667.
    An important objection to preference-satisfaction theories of well-being is that these theories cannot make sense of interpersonal comparisons of well-being. A tradition dating back to Harsanyi () attempts to respond to this objection by appeal to so-called extended preferences: very roughly, preferences over situations whose description includes agents’ preferences. This paper examines the prospects for defending the preference-satisfaction theory via this extended preferences program. We argue that making conceptual sense of extended preferences is less problematic than others have supposed, but (...)
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  • Transcendental Arguments and Interpersonal Utility Comparisons.Mauro Rossi - 2011 - Economics and Philosophy 27 (3):273-295.
    According to the orthodox view, it is impossible to know how different people's preferences compare in terms of strength and whether they are interpersonally comparable at all. Against the orthodox view, Donald Davidson (1986, 2004) argues that the interpersonal comparability of preferences is a necessary condition for the correct interpretation of other people's behaviour. In this paper I claim that, as originally stated, Davidson's argument does not succeed because it is vulnerable to several objections, including Barry Stroud's (1968) objection against (...)
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  • Risk-Free Approaches to the Priority View.David McCarthy - 2013 - Erkenntnis 78 (2):421-449.
    Parfit advertised the priority view as a new and fundamental theory in the ethics of distribution. He never discusses risk, and many writers follow suit when discussing the priority view. This article formalizes two popular arguments for a commonly accepted risk-free definition of the priority view. One is based on a direct attempt to define the priority view, the other is based on a contrast with utilitarianism and egalitarianism. But neither argument succeeds, and more generally, it is not possible to (...)
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  • Niche Construction, Adaptive Preferences, and the Differences Between Fitness and Utility.Armin W. Schulz - 2014 - Biology and Philosophy 29 (3):315-335.
    A number of scholars have recently defended the claim that there is a close connection between the evolutionary biological notion of fitness and the economic notion of utility: both are said to refer to an organism’s success in dealing with its environment, and both are said to play the same theoretical roles in their respective sciences. However, an analysis of two seemingly disparate but in fact structurally related phenomena—‘niche construction’ (the case where organisms change their environment to make it fit (...)
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