J. Paul Kelleher
2017 Economics and Philosophy  
Abstract: Several areas of welfare economics seek to evaluate states of affairs as a function of interpersonally comparable individual utilities. The aim is to map each state of affairs onto a vector of individual utilities, and then to produce an ordering of these vectors that can be represented by a mathematical function assigning a real number to each. When this approach is used in intertemporal contexts, a central theoretical question concerns the rate of pure time preference, i.e. the
more » ... ative weight to be applied to utility coming at different times. This article criticizes the standard philosophical account of pure time preference, arguing that it ascribes to economists a methodological commitment they need not accept. The article then evaluates three further objections to pure time preference, concluding that it might still be defensible under certain circumstances. I close by articulating a final argument that, if sound, would constitute a decisive objection to pure time preference as it currently figures in much intertemporal welfare economics.
doi:10.1017/s0266267117000074 fatcat:jktyctig7rcmdcm3q32dod3ana