Individual Utility in a Context of Asymetric Sensitivity to Pleasure and Pain: An Interpretation of Bentham's Felicific Calculus

André Lapidus 1 Nathalie Sigot 1
1 PHARE - Pôle d'Histoire de l'Analyse et des Représentations Economiques
UP1 - Université Panthéon-Sorbonne : EA1809, UPN - Université Paris Nanterre
Abstract : This paper aims at exploring, in a formal way, Bentham's statement that “the pleasure of gaining is not equal to the evil of losing”, which belongs to those aspects of the principle of utility left aside by Jevon's reconstruction. Consequently, the agent's preference order will be viewed as depending on his initial situation, and on asymmetric sensitivity to gains and losses, relative to this situation. This leads i) to discuss the coexistence of multiple preference orders, illustrated by Bentham's analysis of the optimal labour contract, and ii) to introduce true deliberation as a consequence of the gap between positive choice and rival assessments of utility.
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André Lapidus, Nathalie Sigot. Individual Utility in a Context of Asymetric Sensitivity to Pleasure and Pain: An Interpretation of Bentham's Felicific Calculus. European Journal of the History of Economic Thought, Taylor & Francis (Routledge), 2000, 7 (1), pp.45-78. ⟨hal-00344899⟩

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