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Reclaiming individualismPerspectives on public policy$
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Paul Spicker

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9781447309086

Published to University Press Scholarship Online: September 2013

DOI: 10.1332/policypress/9781447309086.001.0001

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date: 21 August 2017

Methodological individualism and rational self-interest

Methodological individualism and rational self-interest

Chapter:
(p.57) Part Three Methodological individualism and rational self-interest
Source:
Reclaiming individualism
Author(s):

Paul Spicker

Publisher:
Policy Press
DOI:10.1332/policypress/9781447309086.003.0004

Methodological individualism has been dominated by a set of concepts which identify utility with choice, preference and welfare, but these terms are distinct. Individuals are characterised as rational, self-interested utility maximisers, who realise their objectives through the mechanism of choice. People are assumed to respond to incentives and to be motivated by gain. Welfare is said to be improved if at least one person gains when others are no worse off. These propositions are ill-formed and often self-contradictory.

Keywords:   Utility, Preference, Choice, Self-interest, Incentives, Rationality, Pareto, Welfare

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