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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. ^ David Garland, "The Crisis of Penal Modernism", The Culture of Control: Crime and Social Order in Contemporary Society, pp. 53-73, University of Chicago Press (2002). ISBN 0226283844


  • 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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The Indian Express

The Indian Express
Tue, 26 Apr 2016 12:07:30 -0700

... with associations of his fans as the organisation's bedrock. In 1977, MGR came to power, and remained undefeated until his death in 1987. He diluted the rationalist and anti-Brahmin agenda, and opted for welfarism as party ideology. 1988-89: ADMK ...
BusinessWorld Online Edition
Wed, 27 Apr 2016 08:29:34 -0700

One important revelation of this campaign period is that the masa after all, are not so enamored with more welfarism, subsidies populism, and more environmentalism. Rather, they are more concerned with peace and order, physical annihilation of ...

The Guardian

The Guardian
Sun, 24 Apr 2016 01:00:41 -0700

The downside – never mind the privacy disaster – is that they pay almost no taxes; their penchant for moonshots undermines any state-led innovation efforts; their welfarism cannot possibly last for ever. In fact, the latter is likely to result in the ...


Sun, 24 Apr 2016 08:55:14 -0700

... the KKK, Criminality, Racism, Bigotry, Hate, Intolerance.. to the party and people of Statism, Socialism / Marxist Leninist Communism, Collectivism, Welfarism, Criminality, Liberal Intolerance, Liberal Fascism, Indoctrination, Revisionism, and ...


Thu, 21 Apr 2016 13:04:02 -0700

Lane adds: “Like many American admirers of Scandinavian welfare states, Sanders lacks detailed knowledge of how those systems work, or an appreciation for certain cultural peculiarities that make cradle-to-grave welfarism politically sustainable there ...

Atlantic Sentinel

Atlantic Sentinel
Sat, 23 Apr 2016 14:00:00 -0700

Mammone claims that for decades the parties of the center-left and the center-right effectively bribed voters with welfarism. Now that social protections are weakened, the voters who need them most are turning to extremists on the right. Without this ...


Wed, 20 Apr 2016 09:03:47 -0700

This chasm between the left and everyday people explains the left's move towards being pro-state, pro-welfarism, pro-expertise and pro-Brussels: it doesn't trust Us, and so it turns to Them, to try to secure a few social reforms. It's the end of an era ...

The Straits Times

The Straits Times
Mon, 31 Aug 2015 14:13:27 -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 ...

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