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Reclaiming individualismPerspectives on public policy$
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Paul Spicker

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9781447309086

Published to Policy Press Scholarship Online: September 2013

DOI: 10.1332/policypress/9781447309086.001.0001

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Methodological individualism and rational self-interest

Methodological individualism and rational self-interest

(p.57) Part Three Methodological individualism and rational self-interest
Reclaiming individualism

Paul Spicker

Policy Press

Methodological individualism has been dominated by a set of concepts which identify utility with choice, preference and welfare, but these terms are distinct. Individuals are characterised as rational, self-interested utility maximisers, who realise their objectives through the mechanism of choice. People are assumed to respond to incentives and to be motivated by gain. Welfare is said to be improved if at least one person gains when others are no worse off. These propositions are ill-formed and often self-contradictory.

Keywords:   Utility, Preference, Choice, Self-interest, Incentives, Rationality, Pareto, Welfare

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