Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Utility relates age-old philosophical discussions of the nature of a worth-while life to the recent growth of interest among economists in criteria for quality of life. Reflection on the philosophical tradition suggests that there are three key elements in the notion of a good life: welfare, contentment, and dignity. Welfare is capable of objective measurement in terms of such elements as food intake, disease level, expectation of life and so on. Contentment is also measurable, to a more controversial degree, by means of questionnaires eliciting self-ascriptions of subjective well being. Dignity is the most difficult of all the elements of well-being to determine and quantify, but it is related to measures of civil rights, economic and gender equality and measures of the quality of employment. The book discusses what philosophers and economists have had to say about the nature and causes of welfare, dignity and contentment. On the basis of this analysis we draw conclusions for national and international policies.
Here are the front matter, Chapter One and Chapter Four. Here is the publisher’s blurb. Chapter summaries are available in the Life, Liberty and Pursuit of Utility topic page (look left). Chapters one, three, five and seven are philosophical in nature and were written by Anthony Kenny, even-numbered chapters are empirical and were written by Charles Kenny. Anthony Kenny wrote an article about the book in the Scotsman, November 30th and Samual Brittan discussed it in the Financial Times, December 15th. It was reviewed online here and here, in the Journal of Economic Issues (September 2007), the Journal of Law, Philosophy and Culture (Spring, 2007) and the Journal of Markets and Morality (Spring, 2008).