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Measuring Utility


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Table of Contents

Introduction PART I: Utility Measurement in Early Utility Theories, 1870-1910 1. When Unit-Based Measurement Ruled the World: An Interdisciplinary Overview, 1870-1910 2. Is There a Unit of Utility? : Jevons, Menger, and Walras on the Measurability of Utility, 1870-1910 3. Still on the Quest for a Unit: Utility Measurement in Wieser, Boehm-Bawerk, Edgeworth, Fisher, and Marshall, 1880-1910 PART II: Ordinal and Cardinal Utility, and Early Empirical Measurements of Utility, 1900-1945 4. Fundamental Measurement, Sensation Differences, and the British Controversy on Psychological Measurement, 1910-1940 5. Ordinal Utility: Pareto and the Austrians, 1900-1915 6. Cardinal Utility: How It Entered Economic Analysis from Pareto to Samuelson, 1915-1945 7. Going Empirical: The Econometric and Experimental Approaches to Utility Measurement of Frisch and Thurstone, 1925-1945 PART III: From Debating Expected Utility Theory to Re-Defining Utility Measurement, 1945-1955 8. Stevens and the Operational Definition of Measurement in Psychology, 1935-1950 9. The Expected Utility Theory and Measurement Theory of von Neumann and Morgenstern, 1944-1947 10. What Is That Function?: Friedman, Savage, Marschak, Samuelson, and Baumol on EUT, 1947-1950 11. From Chicago to Paris: The Debate Continues, 1950-1952 12. Conventions, Operations, Predictions: Re-Defining Utility Measurement, 1952-1955 PART IV: Expected Utility Theory and Experimental Utility Measurement, 1950-1985 13. Experimental Utility Measurement: The Age of Confidence I, 1950-1960 14. Marschak and Utility Measurement at Yale: The Age of Confidence II, 1960-1965 15. From Utility Measurement to the Representational Theory of Measurement: The Case of Suppes, 1950-1970 16. Measuring Utility, Destabilizing EUT: Behavioral Economics Begins, 1965-1985 Epilogue Acknowledgments References Index

About the Author

Ivan Moscati is Associate Professor of Economics at the University of Insubria, Varese, and teaches History of Economics at Bocconi University, Milan. His articles have been published in a range of journals in economics, history of economic thought, and economic methodology. His recent articles have been awarded the Best Article Award of the History of Economics Society and the Best Article Award of the European Society for the History of Economic Thought.


"[Measuring Unity] should be read by any researcher making use of the concept of utility in their work, but I think it has a much broader appeal. I cannot think of another work in behavioral economics that so carefully scrutinizes the emergence of a key idea and gives us the knowledge needed to further develop our own thinking. Moscati's book will be very influential." -- Daniel Read, Journal of Economic Literature "Modern ideas on utility, including behavioral and choiceless interpretations, cannot be understood without knowing the past, including the marginal and ordinal revolutions. This book, written by the greatest historian on these topics, gives a full and perfect account. It is a must for everyone who really wants to understand modern economics."- Peter Wakker, Professor in Behavioral Economics, Erasmus University Rotterdam "For almost a century, from the 1880s until the 1970s, the best minds in economic theory struggled to solve the problem of measurability of utility. During this long journey they not only provided new mathematical foundations to Neoclassical economics, but also redefined its boundaries, and changed the very notion of measurement that lies at the core of contemporary science. Reconstructing the story of this remarkable achievement, Ivan Moscati has made a lasting contribution both to the history and to the philosophy of science."- Francesco Guala, University of Milan "Ivan Moscati has given us an extremely important history of utility theory, measurement theory, and the relationship between the two for the period from the marginal revolution in the 1870s to the behavioral economics revolution in the mid-1980s. It is a badly needed book, on a very important topic, that deals with difficult interdisciplinary material, and it is brilliantly executed."- D. Wade Hands, University of Puget Sound

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