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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 field 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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Fri, 21 Nov 2014 09:37:30 -0800

The Pope also noted that the economic and social crises can produce fear and disorientation, leading us to think that the situation is so heavy we cannot do anything, instead of taking the initiative. “Taking the initiative means overcoming welfarism ...
Huffington Post
Tue, 25 Nov 2014 11:07:30 -0800

It is interesting that the problem of "welfarism" was as great in the beginning of our country as it is today. A little incentive goes a long way. Bradford quickly remedied that problem. Unfortunately, I do not see our political leaders solving our ...

Daily Sun

Daily Sun
Tue, 25 Nov 2014 17:18:45 -0800

The 6-point Integral Action Plan is a testament of welfarism borne out of a conviction that you can never go wrong if you put in place institutional framework and policies for satiating the yearnings of the masses. His strategy of happiness in the ...

Wall Street Journal

Wall Street Journal
Sun, 23 Nov 2014 15:53:18 -0800

The divergent policy paths taken by the world's advanced economies provide lessons for global leaders navigating difficult post-crisis environments. The U.S. and U.K. appear to have gotten something right, while the eurozone and Japan have fumbled.
Fri, 21 Nov 2014 15:15:00 -0800

Money alone will not create development; to promote development, we need people who have the courage to take the initiative." And taking the initiative means overcoming "welfarism" and "indifference," the Pope said, Breitbart reports. Related Stories:.

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Sat, 22 Nov 2014 20:18:45 -0800

Either way the lumpen as a term reflects how at both the top and bottom of society some will always be attracted and enculturated to an ongoing culture of dependency whether that is more welfarism, bobol, or embedded dependence. The lumpen then remind ...


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