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Welfarism is a form of consequentialism. Like all forms of consequentialism, welfarism is based on the premise that actions, policies, and/or rules should be evaluated on the basis of their consequences. Welfarism is the view that the morally significant consequences are impacts on human (or animal) welfare. There are many different understandings of human welfare, but the term "welfarism" is usually associated with the economic conception of welfare.[citation needed] Economists usually think of individual welfare in terms of utility functions. Social welfare can be conceived as an aggregation of individual utilities or utility functions. Welfarism can be contrasted to other consequentialist theories, such as classical utilitarianism, which takes utility among agents as directly accessible and measurable.

Welfarist views have been especially influential in the law and economics movement.[citation needed] Steven Shavell and Louis Kaplow have argued in an influential book, Fairness versus Welfare that welfare should be the exclusive criteria by which legal analysts evaluate legal policy choices.[1]

Penal welfarism[edit]

Penal welfarism is a theory in the study of criminal justice which holds that prisoners should have the right and the positive motivation to gain opportunities for advancement within the criminal justice system.[2]

Outcome utilitarianism, welfarism, and sum-ranking[edit]

Sen (1979) provides the following two definitions:

"Welfarism: The judgment of the relative goodness of alternative states of affairs must be based exclusively on, and taken as an increasing function of, the respective collections of individual utilities in these states."

"Sum-ranking: One collection of individual utilities is at least as good as another if and only if it has at least as large a sum total."

Sen makes the statement: "It is easily checked that welfarism and sum-ranking together are exactly equivalent to outcome utilitarianism." He then proceeds to criticize outcome utilitarianism by criticizing each of its two components: first sum-ranking, and then welfarism.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Louis Kaplow and Steven Shavell, Fairness versus Welfare (Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press 2002) ISBN 0-674-00622-4
  2. ^ Garland - the crisis of penal modernism


  • Amartya Sen, 'Utilitarianism and Welfarism' in The Journal of Philosophy, Vol. 76, No. 9 pp. 463-489. 1979.

External links[edit]

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978 news items


Tue, 13 Oct 2015 00:41:15 -0700

Our once free America is dying from the same dictatorial corruption that stultified and destroyed Rome, the same bread and circuses, the same massive welfarism, cronyism, privileges, and monetary debasement. But guess what! Those three sentences were ...
Kashmir Times
Mon, 12 Oct 2015 11:33:45 -0700

The Corporates and the media houses they run do not like such shenanigans, even as they wish the Hindu Rightwing to continue to be in state power because of their no-nonsense allegiance to market-fundamentalism and their contempt for social welfarism.

The Straits Times

The Straits Times
Mon, 31 Aug 2015 14:11:15 -0700

The welfarism trap weakens work incentive and hobbles the development of entrepreneurship. In his speech at the British Chamber of Commerce in Singapore in 2004, Mr Lee Kuan Yew said: "Cradle-to-grave welfarism blunted the ambition of many budding ...


Tue, 11 Aug 2015 02:30:35 -0700

Of course, the easy option for Labourites is to blame tabloid scare stories about benefits claimants for people's rejection of welfarism. But voters' views are really based on their lived, day-to-day experiences, not the journalism of the Daily Mail ...
The New American
Thu, 08 Oct 2015 14:25:31 -0700

... from the wealthiest echelons of the donor base to the most energetic grassroots campaigners, are all passionately committed to planks of Big Government socialism, including radical environmentalism, welfarism, hostility to laissez-faire capitalism ...


Sat, 03 Oct 2015 11:56:15 -0700

Even though I think his Leninist views on economics and welfarism are ruinous and dangerous, Mr Corbyn is entitled to them: as he is to his lunatic pacifism, which has him repudiate not just nuclear weapons but, it seems, the Armed Forces generally.

Hurriyet Daily News

Hurriyet Daily News
Wed, 07 Oct 2015 14:11:15 -0700

While he had blown with the winds of political orthodoxy in Turkey through the 1910s and 1920s, in the final decade of his life he advocated something approaching the liberal welfarism of the Roosevelt government's New Deal in the U.S. Ağaoğlu's ideal ...

Huffington Post

Huffington Post
Mon, 09 Feb 2015 11:19:48 -0800

It's important to stress that compassionate conservation is more than "welfarism gone wild" and that it is not an "animal rights" position per se. The terrain in which compassionate conservationists work is challenging, and calls for solutions that ...

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