A Theorem on Utilitarianism

  title={A Theorem on Utilitarianism},
  author={Eric Maskin},
  journal={The Review of Economic Studies},
  • E. Maskin
  • Published 1 February 1978
  • Economics
  • The Review of Economic Studies
In a recent paper [1], d'Aspremont and Gevers establish that if a social welfare functional (SWFL) satisfies several reasonable properties, and if interpersonal comparisons of absolute welfare levels are prohibited, although unit interpersonal comparisons of welfare are not (for a discussion of unit and level welfare comparisons, see Sen [9]), the SWFL must be the principle of utilitarianism. In this paper we derive a similar result when full comparability of welfare is permitted, so that both… 

A Note on Dhillon ( 1998 ) ∗

We provide a counterexample to Theorem 1 (A) in Dhillon [3]. 1 Dhillon’s Multi-Profile Version of Harsanyi’s Theorem on Utilitarianism In an important paper, Amrita Dhillon [3] provided a

Utilitarianism and the Theory of Justice

Axioms for Social Welfare Orderings ∗

The theoretical literature on social organizations has always been concerned with the determination of effective institutions or common decision criteria that integrate, in some way or another, the

A Fairness Justi cation of Utilitarianism

Di erences in preferences are important to explain variation in individuals' behavior. There is however no consensus on how to take these di erences into account when evaluating policies. While

Some Fundamental Issues in Social Welfare

As noted by Amartya Sen (1979, p. 537), Wassily Leontief has succinctly summarized the normative properties ‘on which something like a general consensus of opinion seems to exist’ in the formal

A Fairness Justification of Utilitarianism

Differences in preferences are important to explain variation in individuals’ behavior. There is however no consensus on how to take these differences into account when evaluating policies. While

Revealed Relative Utilitarianism

We consider the aggregation of individual agents’ von Neumann- Morgenstern preferences over lotteries into a social planner’s von Neumann-Morgenstern preference. We start from Harsanyi’s [18]

Bentham or Nash? On the Acceptable Form of Social Welfare Functions*

The acceptability of the Nash Social Welfare Function is questioned because a minute (perhaps hardy perceivable) werfare change of;someone with a very low welfare level might overwhelm enormous



Equity, Arrow's Conditions, and Rawls' Difference Principle

An Arrow social welfare function was designed not to incorporate any interpersonal comparisons. But some notions of equity rest on interpersonal comparisons. It is shown that a generalized social

Equity and the Informational Basis of Collective Choice

We consider the problem of a planner or ethical observer who wants to derive a collective preference ordering over a set of feasible alternatives from the knowledge of individual utility functions.

Decision-Making Under Ignorance with Implications for Social Choice

A new investigation is launched into the problem of decision-making in the face of ‘complete ignorance’, and linked to the problem of social choice. In the first section the author introduces a set

Collective Choice and Social Welfare

Topological Methods in Cardinal Utility Theory

Arrow's Paradox and Beyond

  • mimeographed,
  • 1975

Representation of a Preference Ordering by a Numerical Function ", in Thrall, Coombs and Davis (eds.), Decision Processes

  • 1954

A Theory of Justice (Cambridge: Harvard

  • 1971