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Jevons’s Debt to Bentham: Mathematical Economy, Morals and Psychology

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Abstract:

The aim of this paper is to show that Jevons’s utilitarianism is to be related to his attempt to build a mathematical theory of economics: the ‘felicific calculus’ provides the instrument for transforming sensations into quantities. The first section shows that Jevons referred to Bentham’s calculus but made it much simpler to enable the mathematical instrument to be introduced. The second section is devoted to his rejection of Mill’s attempt to make utilitarianism a morally reasonable philosophy by introducing qualities of feelings. But I endeavour to show that avoiding Mill’s interpretation did not mean that Jevons gave up on moral matters.

Document Type: Original Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/1467-9957.00295

Affiliations: PHARE (Universités Paris I/Paris X) and Université du Littoral CÃ,te d’Opale

Publication date: March 1, 2002

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