CHAPTER 20INCOME INEQUALITY AND POVERTY447because the government’s role in redistributing income is central to so many de-bates over economic policy, here we digress from economic science to consider abit of political philosophy.UTILITARIANISMA prominent school of thought in political philosophy is utilitarianism.Thefounders of utilitarianism are the English philosophers Jeremy Bentham (1748–1832)and John Stuart Mill (1806–1873). To a large extent, the goal of utilitarians is to ap-ply the logic of individual decisionmaking to questions concerning morality andpublic policy.The starting point of utilitarianism is the notion of utility—the level of happi-ness or satisfaction that a person receives from his or her circumstances. Utility isa measure of well-being and, according to utilitarians, is the ultimate objective ofall public and private actions. The proper goal of the government, they claim, is tomaximize the sum of utility of everyone in society.
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