Journal of Economics and Economic Education Research (Print ISSN: 1533-3590; Online ISSN: 1533-3604)


The Thrill of Simplicity, the Agony of Realism: An Assessment of the Sport of Utility Theory

Author(s): Robert Stretcher

This paper develops a pedagogical exposition of utility theory from its roots in classical theory to its newer forms. The theme of the exposition is that, in its simplest form, utility theory provides precise solutions to standardized behavioral traits of self-interest, but in its more realistic forms, real world complication can oppose the conclusions of the simple model. A possible framework for organization of the various utility theory extensions is presented. The world of utility theory is assessed in terms of Stigler’s acceptance criteria, and conclusions are drawn about the usefulness and direction of utility theory.