Insegnamenti I & II Livello
Programma dell'insegnamento: Utilitarian ethics and economics in the history of economic thought
Corsi di Laurea
Codice Cfu Insegnamento
3Utilitarian ethics and economics in the history of economic thought
II sem.
Guidi Marco
tel: 050-2216206  email:
ricevimento: Lunedi 10:00 12:00 Martedi 10:00 12:00
Ore di lezione

The relationships between utilitarianism and economics in the history of thought

Apprendimento in termini di conoscenza
The aim of this course is the study of the relationships between the utilitarian philosophy and economics in their historical evolution. At the moment of the marginalist revolution in the 1870s thanks to the works of S.W. Jevons and F.Y. Edgeworth economics drew from the language of utilitarianism a series of notions which remained at the basis of modern microeconomics. The course will examine the origins of the utilitarian philosophy in its double nature of theory of human motivation and action and of corpus of moral rules. Then the evolution of utilitarianism will be followed, focusing on the intersections between moral philosophy and economics.

1. Natural theology and origins of the utilitarian paradigm;
2. Sensationalism and the explanation of human action based on pleasure and pain: Hobbes, Locke, Condillac, the Italian Enlightenment (Beccaria, Verri, Ortes, Genovesi). Argument of pain and argument of expected pleasure;
3. Helvétius and enlightened interest;
4. Bentham's synthesis I: pleasure, pain and utility principle;
5. Bentham's synthesis II : application of utilitarianism to economic analysis;
6. John Stuart Mill's revisionism;
7. Principia ethica by Henry Sidgwick;
8. Jevons : the utilitarian foundations of marginalist theory ;
9. Edgeworth between morals and economics;
10. The Cambridge school: Marshall, Pigou and the economics of welfare;
11. Pareto's revision : from cardinalism to ordinalism;
12. The new economcis of welfare: Hicks, Kaldor, Scitowsky ;
13. The general possibility theorem: Arrow;
14. Harsanyi's neo-utilitarianism ;
15. Utilitarianism : for and against: Rawls, Sen, Williams

Testi consigliati per l'esame
The bibliography will be distributed during lessons.