utility
The basic unit of desirability in much decision theory, game theory, and economics. The difficulty is being sure that it refers to anything sufficiently definite to work with. This requires, for instance, that at least some comparisons of utility across different times and different people is possible. Stronger assumptions may require that utilities can be ordered in various scales, or summed and manipulated arithmetically (see felicific calculus ; measurement, philosophy of ). This may seem to involve a wild idealization, since although we might judge that this year's holiday was better than last year's, we are not apt to think it makes sense to say it was twice as good, or that it generated half as many units of utility as (say) a lifetime's consumption of chocolate. Cautious work prefers to use orderings of preferences: an outcome A has greater utility than outcome B (for subject x ) if and only if x prefers A to B. Preferences are in turn revealed in actual or idealized choices, thus allowing the concept some behavioural and scientific respectability. Again, however, most traditions of ethical thought recognize more valuable and worthwhile goals to life than simply satisfying an arbitrary sequence of preferences.

Philosophy dictionary. . 2011.

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  • Utility — U*til i*ty, n. [OE. utilite, F. utilit[ e], L. utilitas, fr. utilis useful. See {Utile}.] [1913 Webster] 1. The quality or state of being useful; usefulness; production of good; profitableness to some valuable end; as, the utility of manure upon… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • utility — util·i·ty n pl ties 1: fitness for some purpose or worth to some end 2 a: public utility b: a service or commodity provided by a public utility paid for rent and utilities; also: equipment or m …   Law dictionary

  • Utility — (engl. ‚Nutzen‘, ‚Versorgungsbetrieb‘) bezeichnet ein Dienstprogramm, Software Werkzeug zur Verwaltung eines Betriebssystems einen Fahrzeugtyp wie zum Beispiel den Holden Utility Landing Craft, Utility, ein Mehrzweck Landungsboot siehe auch:… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • utility — ► NOUN (pl. utilities) 1) the state of being useful, profitable, or beneficial. 2) a public utility. 3) Computing a utility program. ► ADJECTIVE ▪ useful, especially through having several functions. ORIGIN Latin utilitas, from utilis …   English terms dictionary

  • utility — late 14c., fact of being useful, from O.Fr. utilite usefulness (late 13c.), earlier utilitet (12c.), from L. utilitatem (nom. utilitas) usefulness, serviceableness, profit, from utilis usable, from uti (see USE (Cf. use) (v.)). As a shortened… …   Etymology dictionary

  • utility — [yo͞o til′ə tē] n. pl. utilities [ME utilite < OFr utilité < L utilitas < utilis, UTILE] 1. the quality or property of being useful; usefulness 2. something useful 3. a) something useful to the public, esp. the service of electric power …   English World dictionary

  • utility — /ju tiləti/, it. /u tiliti/ s. ingl. (propr. utilità ; pl. invar. o utilities ), usato in ital. al femm. (inform.) [spec. al plur., serie di istruzioni che facilitano, estendono o soccorrono le funzioni del sistema operativo o di un applicazione] …   Enciclopedia Italiana

  • utility — (izg. jutìliti) m DEFINICIJA inform. uslužni program, v. uslužan ETIMOLOGIJA engl …   Hrvatski jezični portal

  • utility — *use, usefulness Analogous words: suitability, fitness, appropriateness (see corresponding adjectives at FIT): value, *worth …   New Dictionary of Synonyms

  • utility — [n] serviceableness account, adequacy, advantage, advantageousness, applicability, appropriateness, avail, benefit, convenience, efficacy, efficiency, expediency, favor, fitness, function, point, practicality, productiveness, profit, relevance,… …   New thesaurus

  • Utility — This article is about the economic concept. For other uses, see Utility (disambiguation). Part of a series on Utilitarianism …   Wikipedia

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