Interpersonal Comparisons of Well-Being

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In this volume a diverse group of economists, philosophers, political scientists, and psychologists address the problems, principles, and practices involved in comparing the well-being of different individuals. A series of questions lie at the heart of this investigation: What is the relevant concept of well-being for the purposes of comparison? How could the comparisons be carried out for policy purposes? How are such comparisons made now? How do the difficulties involved in these comparisons affect the status of utilitarian theories? This collection constitutes the most advanced and comprehensive treatment of one of the cardinal issues in social theory.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"The issues discussed in this volume are fundamental to considerations of distributive justice and welfare economics." Contemporary Sociology

"A central message of this book is the inescapable nature of interpersonal comparisons of well being, and the centrality of fundamental philosophical values to these comparisons. It is not a criticism to say that it leaves the reader with more questions than it answers, because the issues it addresses are fundamental and complex....Economists of all types will find this an important book—stimulating, yet also somewhat disquieting." Lars Osberg, Journal of Economics Literature

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780521457224
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press
  • Publication date: 6/28/2003
  • Series: Studies in Rationality and Social Change Series
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 412
  • Product dimensions: 5.98 (w) x 8.98 (h) x 0.91 (d)

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments; Introduction Jon Elster and John E. Roemer; 1. The moral basis of interpersonal comparisons Thomas M. Scanlon; 2. Against the taste model James Griffin; 3. Utilitarian metaphysics? John Broome; 4. Local justice and interpersonal comparisons Jon Elster; 5. Notes on the psychology of utility Daniel Kahneman and Carol Varey; 6. Adult-equivalence scales, interpersonal comparisons of well-being, and applied welfare economics Charles Blackorby and David Donaldson; 7. Interpersonal comparisons of utility: why and how they are and should be made Peter J. Hammond; 8. A consideration of the Harsanyi-Sen debate on utilitarianism John A. Weymark; 9. Deducing interpersonal comparisons from local expertise Ignacio Ortuno-Ortin and John E. Roemer; 10. Subjective interpersonal comparison Aanund Hylland; 11. Utilitarian fundamentalism and limited information C. D'Aspremont and L. A. Gerard-Varet; Index.

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