is a form of consequentialism
. Like all forms of consequentialism, welfarism is based on the premise that actions, policies, and/or rules should be evaluated on the basis of their consequences. Welfarism is the view that the morally significant consequences are impacts on human welfare. There are many different understandings of human welfare, but the term "welfarism" is usually associated with the economic conception of welfare. Economists usually think of individual welfare in terms of utility functions
. Social welfare can be conceived as an aggregation of individual utilities or utility functions. Welfarism can be contrasted to other consequentialist theories, such as classical utilitarianism
, which takes utility among agents as directly accessible and measurable.
Welfarist views have been especially influential in the law and economics movement. Steven Shavell and Louis Kaplow have argued in an influential book, Fairness versus Welfare that welfare should be the exclusive criteria by which legal analysts evaluate legal policy choices.
Louis Kaplow and Steven Shavell, Fairness versus Welfare
(Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press 2002) ISBN 0-674-00622-4..