What Is Welfare and How Can We Measure It?

Keith Dowding*

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review

    5 Citations (Scopus)


    This article steps back from the traditional route of discussing the philosophical issues of welfare economics. The problem with that general approach is that the account and problems inherent in seeing welfare in terms of choicebased utility (whether ordinal or cardinal) or experiential utility are discussed prior to discussing other ways of examining human welfare. Problems with welfarism and utilitarianism, then, lead to the discussion of other approaches as though they avoid such problems when, in reality, their proponents rarely even stand them up to the issues. Any welfare economics or political philosophy that does not tell how to address public policy issues is not worth the name, and that means there must be a way of comparing the welfare of different people in some manner in order to make judgments about where to spend public money. All approaches suffer from interpersonal comparability problems.

    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationThe Oxford Handbook of Philosophy of Economics
    PublisherOxford University Press
    ISBN (Electronic)9780199892105
    ISBN (Print)9780195189254
    Publication statusPublished - 2 Sept 2009


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