Subjective utilitarianism: Individual decisions in a social context

Shiri Alon, Ehud Lehrer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Individual decisions are often subjectively affected by other-regarding considerations. We model a decision maker influenced by a grand group of significant others. Each sub-group of significant others is a possible social context, and the decision maker has different preferences in different social contexts. An axiomatic characterization of such preferences is offered. The characterized representation takes a simple subjective utilitarian form: (a) the decision maker ascribes to each significant other a utility function, representing the decision maker's subjective perception of this other person's tastes, and (b) in any specific social context the decision maker evaluates alternatives by adding together her or his own personal utility and the sum of all group members' utilities as subjectively perceived by the decision maker.

Original languageEnglish
Article number105108
JournalJournal of Economic Theory
StatePublished - Nov 2020

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 Elsevier Inc.


  • Axiomatization
  • Other-regarding preferences
  • Social context
  • Subjective utilitarianism


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