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HEDONISM AND WELFARE ECONOMICS

  • Daniel M. Hausman (a1)
Abstract

This essay criticizes the proposal recently defended by a number of prominent economists that welfare economics be redirected away from the satisfaction of people's preferences and toward making people happy instead. Although information about happiness may sometimes be of use, the notion of happiness is sufficiently ambiguous and the objections to identifying welfare with happiness are sufficiently serious that welfare economists are better off using preference satisfaction as a measure of welfare. The essay also examines and criticizes the position associated with Daniel Kahneman and a number of co-authors that takes welfare to be ‘objective happiness’ – that is, the sum of momentary pleasures.

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J. Bentham 1789 [2007]. An Introduction to the Principles of Morals and Legislation. New York: Dover Publications.

R. Crisp 2006. Reasons and the Good. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

R. A. Easterlin 1974. Does economic growth improve the human lot? Some empirical evidence. In Nations and Households in Economic Growth: Essays in Honour of Moses Abramovitz, ed. P. A. David and M. W. Reder , 89125. New York: Academic Press.

F. Feldman 2004. Pleasure and the Good Life: Concerning the Nature, Varieties, and Plausibility of Hedonism. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

D. Hausman and M. McPherson 2006. Economic Analysis, Moral Philosophy, and Public Policy. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2006.

D. Kahneman 2006. New challenges to the rationality assumption. In The Construction of Preference, ed. P. Slovic and S. Lichtenstein , 487503. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

R. Kraut 2007. What is Good and Why. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

A. Sen 1993. Capability and well-being. In The Quality of Life, ed. M. Nussbaum and A. Sen , 3053. Oxford: Clarendon Press.

A. Smith 1759. The Theory of Moral Sentiments. Reprinted and edited by D. Raphael and A. MacFie . Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1976.

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Economics & Philosophy
  • ISSN: 0266-2671
  • EISSN: 1474-0028
  • URL: /core/journals/economics-and-philosophy
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