CHAPTER 20 INCOME INEQUALITY AND POVERTY 447 because 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 a bit of political philosophy. UTILITARIANISM A prominent school of thought in political philosophy is utilitarianism. The founders 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 and public 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 is a measure of well-being and, according to utilitarians, is the ultimate objective of all public and private actions. The proper goal of the government, they claim, is to maximize the sum of utility of everyone in society. The utilitarian case for redistributing income is based on the assumption of
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This note was uploaded on 07/30/2010 for the course ECON 120 taught by Professor Abijian during the Spring '10 term at Mesa CC.