Utility is a term of art employed by philosophers and social scientists to denote what is of value to, or what is good for, human beings (or, sometimes, sentient beings more generally). The word utility is synonymous with “welfare” and “well-being,” so to speak of the utility of decisions, actions, or policies is to refer to their impact on the welfare or well-being of people. The specific meaning of the term differs widely, since the notion of human welfare is contentious. Economists, for the most part, share a common understanding of utility as the satisfaction of desires and preferences through the use or consumption of commodities (i.e., goods and services). So the terms utility, welfare, and satisfaction tend to be used interchangeably in economics. Economists ...

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