After noting factors (concern for others, ignorance, irrationality) accounting for the divergences between preference and happiness, the question of representing the preference of an individual by a utility function is discussed, taking account of lexicographic ordering, imperfect discrimination and the corresponding concepts of semiorder and sub-semiorder. Methods to improve upon the interpersonal comparability of measures of happiness such as pinning down the dividing line of zero happiness and the use of a just perceivable increment of happiness are discussed. The relation of social welfare to individual welfare (i.e. happiness) is then considered. Some reasonable set of axioms ensuring that social welfare is a separable function of and indeed an unweighted sum of individual welfares are reviewed. Finally, happiness is regarded as a function of objective, institutional and subjective factors; an interdisciplinary approach is needed even for an incomplete analysis.
- Social Welfare