358 Utility Maximizing where the Qi are goods or services, and where dU/dQt > 0 is marginal utility.
It is possible to model altruism in utilitarian terms by postulating that some of the arguments (the Qt in the utility function) are entities that accrue to other people and from which they derive utility. That is to say, the choosing individual derives utility from the consumption, experience and so on of another person: put plainly, one is pleased to see another person healthier or with greater access to health care than would otherwise be the case. Conversely, of course, a malevolent person, by analogy, derives utility from arguments in their utility function that are negative arguments of another's behaviour or utility. A non-economist may readily imagine what economists make of trading between a sadist and a masochist. See Utility Maximizing.
Was this article helpful?