The original idea for a social welfare function is due to Abram Bergson (1914-2003) and definitively and rigorously developed by Paul Samuelson (b.1915) in his PhD thesis with astonishing virtuosity. Bergson's original idea was extremely general, for the value of social welfare was understood to depend on all the variables that might be considered as affecting it. It is usually interpreted as being defined over a particular profile of individual utilities. This is what is usually meant by the term 'welfarist': social welfare is deemed to depend on utilities (and not, for example, quantities of goods or anything else). See Abram Bergson (1938), 'A reformulation of certain aspects of welfare economics', Quarterly Journal of Economics, 52, 310-34; Paul A. Samuelson (1947), Foundations of Economic Analysis, Cambridge: Harvard University Press. See Arrow Impossibility Theorem, Arrow Social Welfare Function, Pareto Optimality, Social Welfare.
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