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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]

Original courtesy of Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Welfarism — Please support Wikipedia.
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Deccan Herald
Tue, 19 May 2015 10:26:15 -0700

SUBSIDY REFORMS. Across the class divide that is India, the grumbling against the UPA had been that its overemphasis on social welfare and security has led to inflated welfare expenditures at the cost of growth. Because, it is an empirical truth that ...

Chronicle of Higher Education (subscription)

Chronicle of Higher Education (subscription)
Mon, 25 May 2015 21:07:30 -0700

It was in part out of the experience of socioeconomic misery during the Great Depression, and not only the threatening Communist insistence on an absolute ceiling on inequality, that capitalist nations signed on so enthusiastically to welfarism. The ...

Sioux Falls Argus Leader

Sioux Falls Argus Leader
Mon, 25 May 2015 11:33:45 -0700

Society must reject the underlying vices of welfarism. Americans need to decide if they want to live in a free society or a welfare state. Welfare is the modern day slave plantation and its supporters are modern day slave owners. Welfare is the ...

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 ...


Tue, 19 May 2015 20:28:35 -0700

There are many who have discovered the salvatory powers of private capital and enterprise post May 16, 2014, after a decade of chanting the mantra of redistributive welfarism. SV Raju, 81, a founding member of Swatantra Party and longstanding editor of ...

Irish Examiner

Irish Examiner
Sun, 17 May 2015 17:56:15 -0700

Sinn Féin, in particular, has been pushing an agenda of welfarism and punitive taxation on the higher paid as part of its strategy of nailing down the votes of the lower paid and unemployed. Together with the hard left, it has colonised a large group ...

The Hindu

The Hindu
Sat, 16 May 2015 12:41:15 -0700

As Chief Minister, his reliance on select schemes of benevolence and welfarism added to his popularity. In contrast, his “successor” in the AIADMK does not quite have the same appeal, but has skilfully nurtured the image of a matriarch among her ...


Fri, 08 May 2015 05:23:02 -0700

Which is, on one side, the Britain of the moral clerisy, which is pro-EU, multicultural, anti-tabloid, politically correct and devoted to welfarism and paternalism as the main means through which to govern the masses, and, on the other side, the ...

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