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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]

Original courtesy of Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Welfarism — Please support Wikipedia.
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61 news items

Wall Street Journal

Wall Street Journal
Thu, 30 Oct 2014 08:56:15 -0700

A parade of market-oriented economists, many of whom had grown disillusioned with the previous government's abandonment of reform for 1970s-style welfarism, have joined Messrs. Bhagwati and Panagariya. A clutch of recent appointments underlines the ...

New Statesman

New Statesman
Thu, 30 Oct 2014 03:30:00 -0700

... British constitutional settlement were, throughout the turbulence of the 20th century, provided by the existence of a political opposition that constituted itself, in part, as an alternative civil society: municipal socialism, trade union welfarism ...

The Pilot

The Pilot
Thu, 30 Oct 2014 05:33:45 -0700

The prospect of a world of lasting peace and justice calls us to overcome paternalistic welfarism; it calls us to create new ways of participation that include the Popular Movements and animate local, national and international government structures ...
Varsity Online
Fri, 31 Oct 2014 01:26:15 -0700

Labour has been little better, consigning the disengaged and isolated groups to a life on the dole with help for the working class being synonymous with high levels of benefit spending and welfarism. UKIP has finally offered this group a voice – albeit ...

International Business Times AU

International Business Times AU
Tue, 28 Oct 2014 15:07:30 -0700

"The challenging economic environment is needing drastic policy adjustments to address some of the macroeconomic imbalances that have emerged," commented Shelly Shetty, Fitch's senior director for Latin America. Many believe that Rousseff's welfarism ...
Gazzetta del Sud english
Tue, 28 Oct 2014 11:22:30 -0700

Francis urged an end to "paternalistic welfarism" as a condition for peace and justice and called for the creation of "new forms of participation that include the grass-roots movements" and their "stream of moral energy". Since his election on March 13 ...

Osun Defender

Osun Defender
Tue, 28 Oct 2014 03:30:00 -0700

“We will ensure that the welfarism and good governance of Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola continue unabated, until development becomes irreversible in our dear state,” he said. Earlier, the outgoone Chairman of the party, Elder Adelowo Adebiyi, who reeled out ...
Osun Defender
Sun, 26 Oct 2014 18:07:30 -0700

“We will not be sectional, but we will be sensitive to the various backgrounds and orientations of party members. “We will ensure that the welfarism and good governance of Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola continue unabated, until development becomes irreversible ...

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