Concept

Utility

Summary
As a topic of economics, utility is used to model worth or value. Its usage has evolved significantly over time. The term was introduced initially as a measure of pleasure or happiness as part of the theory of utilitarianism by moral philosophers such as Jeremy Bentham and John Stuart Mill. The term has been adapted and reapplied within neoclassical economics, which dominates modern economic theory, as a utility function that represents a consumer's ordinal preferences over a choice set, but is not necessarily comparable across consumers or possessing a cardinal interpretation. This concept of utility is personal and based on choice rather than on pleasure received, and so requires fewer behavioral assumptions than the original concept. Utility function Consider a set of alternatives among which a person has a preference ordering. A utility function represents that ordering if it is possible to assign a real number to each alternative in such a manner that alternative a is
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