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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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1004 news items

Breitbart News

Breitbart News
Fri, 21 Nov 2014 09:37:30 -0800

Pope Francis said that the current economic crisis requires “initiative” to overcome the consequences of economic difficulties and unemployment, avoiding the temptations of “welfarism” and “indifference.” “We must renew working relationships,” Francis ...


Sat, 22 Nov 2014 04:11:15 -0800

It has already been decided to limit the share of cash payments, and develop measures on combating welfarism. By the end of the year, the Government should also come up with measures on combating off-the-books income, the so-called "pay envelopes".

Trinidad Guardian

Trinidad Guardian
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 ...
Tue, 18 Nov 2014 16:08:52 -0800

The bien pensant are appalled by the thought of money influencing relationships, but they underestimate the financial penalty for relatively poor people who marry. Sadly, by encouraging unmarried parenting among the poor, welfarism has extended poverty ...
Sat, 15 Nov 2014 01:05:13 -0800

Devoid of any vision or program, he stoked the cynicism of the middle class and invoked pulp welfarism for poorer sections. He got desperate when he realized that unlike sensational politics, governance does not attract cameras. His desperation reached ...
Trinidad & Tobago Express
Mon, 17 Nov 2014 18:26:15 -0800

Dr Rowley has now, however, joined a chorus of criticism assailing the ill-effects of the “dependency syndrome”. Just the evening before, Mikey Joseph, president of the Contractors' Association, charged that job creation under government social ...

The Guardian

The Guardian
Mon, 10 Nov 2014 22:30:25 -0800

True, Osborne has drawn the distinction on welfare, where he knows that Labour is dogged by tension between reforming pragmatists like Rachel Reeves and those who regard any inroads into welfarism as an unconscionable betrayal. But while Osborne ...

Wall Street Journal

Wall Street Journal
Thu, 30 Oct 2014 09:06:22 -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 ...

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