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Interpersonal Comparisons and Utilitarian Social Choice

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posted on 2019-10-29, 22:17 authored by John LawrenceJohn Lawrence
Interpersonal comparisons of utility scales have been considered to be meaningless. Therefore, utilitarian voting consisting of individual preference ratings on some utility scale as inputs has been considered unscientific. We show a particular method consisting of a hybrid of utilitarian and approval voting or choosing for which individual utility scales need not be comparable since the results are the same for any affine linear transformation of the utility scale. Therefore, the issue of interpersonal comparisons is moot.




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Lead author country

  • United States

Lead author job role

  • Independent researcher

Lead author institution

University of California at San Diego

Human Participants

  • No

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Interpersonal comparisons of utility are moral opinions (what society should be) or, if it is one of the parties involved who makes the comparison, self-interested claims (“I want more beer”). Hence the impossibility of scientific interpersonal comparisons of utility. Read More