For an individual, a dollar is not always a dollar. I gain far more utility through my first 500 dollars a week than through my second 500 dollars a week income. Even more so is the value of Bill Gate’s “last” 500 dollars diminished, relative to the value of his first 500 dollars. Naturally this … Continue reading Who values money more- the poor or the rich?
This is an interlude to "A Philosophy for a New Old Welfare Economics" but doesn't require you to have read the previous post 1. The broad outlines of the problem Sometimes a change makes everyone in a group better off, sometimes a change makes everyone in a group worse off, in these cases, it is … Continue reading So you want to know how well your society is going: an introduction to aggregate and average utilities
This is part one of an outline of my planned PhD thesis on the philosophy & practice of welfare economics. I’ll link part II here when I write it. I’m about three months into the research for my thesis, so forgive me if it’s a little loose. I wanted to put it out there to … Continue reading A philosophy for a new old welfare economics, Part 1.
I'm going to be talking about something that's at once as dry as dust, and also one of the key instrumentalities through which money rules the world. I have never before seen any political radical or Marxist write about it, which is odd because it is perhaps the purest example of the Marxist theory of … Continue reading Cost-Benefit Analysis undermines democracy: Or, this one weird trick helps instantiate the rule of capital
If you enjoy this article check out my book, I’ve made it free to help you self-quarantine: https://deponysum.com/2020/03/30/something-to-read-in-quarantine-essays-2018-to-2020/ I've seen people in the US say things like: "While the NHS works very well in many ways compared to the American health system, the British government isn't the American government. The American government is much better at … Continue reading A brief comment on the problem of US government
EDIT: Today I happened to reread Angner's "Is it possible to measure happiness" and it's probably important to mention that all the basic elements of my argument can be found in Angner's article, though it isn't spelt out in quite the same way by Angner. If you're bored and want something to read check out … Continue reading The interpersonal comparison is a general problem across psychology- not merely a specific problem about comparing welfare
The Kaldor-Hicks efficiency criterion is a test in welfare economics against which hypothetical policies are often measured- click here for the Wikipedia article. We've clashed horns with it many times on this blog. Here is another demonstration of the absurdity of the Kaldor-Hicks criterion: it implies that we should abolish all transfer programs. Perhaps you … Continue reading The Kaldor-Hicks efficiency criterion and transfer programs
I. The Easterlin paradox is the observation that country level happiness does not seem to increase overtime with income- even though there are many reasons to think it should- for example, income gives us choices, security, additional consumption and so on. The paradox grows even weirder when we reflect that individual increases in income do … Continue reading Why we can’t (usefully) dismiss concern about the income of others as envious
I. Plausibly there are actually two problems of interpersonal utility comparison- the epistemic problem and the ontological problem. The epistemic problem is the problem of how we could know that a given comparison is correct. The ontological problem is the problem of why we should think such comparisons are meaningful- anymore than measuring temperature against … Continue reading [WIP] [Technical] Extending the veil of ignorance argument for utilitarianism into an argument for ‘egalitarian’ interpersonal utility comparison
[EDIT. I am no longer satisfied with my treatment of Ng's argument. It is perhaps not wrong as such, but it is like taking a 2 dimensional slice of a three dimensional object. I have ignored much of what is subtle and interesting in his take. I will leave this essay up though for two … Continue reading A dollar is a dollar? What economists don’t get about indirect programs