Note that allowing a murderer to, well, murder, improves his economic welfare—it increases his economic utility. Yet murdering is a net negative in the ethicist’s utility function.

Economics makes normative claims because economists typically have some relatively uncontroversial normative assumptions—like maximizing economic welfare is a good thing. This is by and large true, but see my counter example above. Also, economists aren’t trying to prove that the values they assume are the correct ones. They are assuming certain ethical values and proposing policies that maximize these values.

The two types of utility functions look very similar—the math is the same, both describe goal seeking behavior, etc., but the difference is the preference sets that each describe. Murder can increase utility in the economist’s utility function, but not in the ethicist’s (under normal circumstances).

Murder can increase utility in the economist’s utility function

That is really immaterial though and computationally moot. Ok so his “utility function” is negative. Is that it, is that the difference? Besides, I would argue that reevaluating it on those terms does a poor job of actually describing motivation in a coherent set.

Yet murdering is a net negative in the ethicist’s utility function.

It isn’t in the economists? These things aren’t neutral.

The broader aspect that economists seek is normative. You said it yourself in the economists assumptions. Assumptions are not exogenous when calculating value, try as they may.

Most good studies in their presentation will explain why their methodology is as it is, and why understanding their paper will solve a problem or lead to a conflict resolution. That was the purpose behind applied economic game theory, optimizing equilibrium in previously zero sum outcomes and eliminating dominated strategies for competition. One cannot successfully separate economics from ethics ( I would argue for all but the explicitly classifying sciences (Chemistry, Cladistics etc...) this holds true).

If we are simply talking about mathematical notation, then feel free to slap a negative sign on the expected utility portion for terrorists in the “aggregate worldwide utility” formula. It still won’t make any sense in practice.

That is really immaterial though and computationally moot. Ok so his “utility function” is negative. Is that it, is that the difference? Besides, I would argue that reevaluating it on those terms does a poor job of actually describing motivation in a coherent set.

No. His utility from murder is greater than his utility from not-murder. Cops describe this as ‘motive’.

One cannot successfully separate economics from ethics ( I would argue for all but the explicitly classifying sciences (Chemistry, Cladistics etc...) this holds true).

Yes one can. It is much like chemistry. We can say “GDP should be increased” just was we can say “electricity should be produced”. But it is better to just let chemistry say “if you put a plate of lead peroxide and a plate of lead metal in sulfuric acid you can generate electricity” and much the same for economics.

If we are simply talking about mathematical notation, then feel free to slap a negative sign on the expected utility portion for terrorists in the “aggregate worldwide utility” formula.

If you want to. But if your intention is to understand or predict the behaviours of terrorists you don’t want to consider that ‘aggregate worldwide utility formula’. That’s useless. You want to consider the utility of the terrorists, at the appropriate level of detail.

It still won’t make any sense in practice.

Huh? Yes it will. You mean “you will still find it undesirable and or hard for you to understand”.

You want to consider the utility of the terrorists, at the appropriate level of detail.

Huh? Yes it will. You mean “you will still find it undesirable and or hard for you to understand”.

What are the units for expected utility? How do you measure them? Can you graph my utility function?

I can look at behaviors of people and say that on this day Joe bought 5 apples and 4 oranges, on this day he bought 2 kiwis, 2 apples and no oranges etc...but that data doesn’t reliably forecast expected utility for oranges. There are so many exogenous variables that the data is reliably unreliable.

I have yet to see a researcher give a practical empirical formula mapping the utility of a person or group. I argue it is because it is impossible (currently), thus trying to do so doesn’t make sense in practice. I have however, as demonstrated in the link previously, seen formulas which imply weighted preference set’s. Those aren’t any more useful or descriptive than saying that Joe prefers apples to oranges.

Note that allowing a murderer to, well, murder, improves his economic welfare—it increases his economic utility. Yet murdering is a net negative in the ethicist’s utility function.

Economics makes normative claims because economists typically have some relatively uncontroversial normative assumptions—like maximizing economic welfare is a good thing. This is by and large true, but see my counter example above. Also, economists aren’t trying to prove that the values they assume are the correct ones. They are assuming certain ethical values and proposing policies that maximize these values.

The two types of utility functions look very similar—the math is the same, both describe goal seeking behavior, etc., but the difference is the preference sets that each describe. Murder can increase utility in the economist’s utility function, but not in the ethicist’s (under normal circumstances).

That is really immaterial though and computationally moot. Ok so his “utility function” is negative. Is that it, is that the difference? Besides, I would argue that reevaluating it on those terms does a poor job of actually describing motivation in a coherent set.

It isn’t in the economists? These things aren’t neutral.

The broader aspect that economists seek is normative. You said it yourself in the economists assumptions. Assumptions are not exogenous when calculating value, try as they may.

Most good studies in their presentation will explain why their methodology is as it is, and why understanding their paper will solve a problem or lead to a conflict resolution. That was the purpose behind applied economic game theory, optimizing equilibrium in previously zero sum outcomes and eliminating dominated strategies for competition. One cannot successfully separate economics from ethics ( I would argue for all but the explicitly classifying sciences (Chemistry, Cladistics etc...) this holds true).

If we are simply talking about mathematical notation, then feel free to slap a negative sign on the expected utility portion for terrorists in the “aggregate worldwide utility” formula. It still won’t make any sense in practice.

No. His utility from murder is greater than his utility from not-murder. Cops describe this as ‘motive’.

Yes one can. It is much like chemistry. We can say “GDP should be increased” just was we can say “electricity should be produced”. But it is better to just let chemistry say “if you put a plate of lead peroxide and a plate of lead metal in sulfuric acid you can generate electricity” and much the same for economics.

If you want to. But if your intention is to understand or predict the behaviours of terrorists you don’t want to consider that ‘aggregate worldwide utility formula’. That’s useless. You want to consider the utility of the terrorists, at the appropriate level of detail.

Huh? Yes it will. You mean “you will still find it undesirable and or hard for you to understand”.

See my response here

What are the units for expected utility? How do you measure them? Can you graph my utility function?

I can look at behaviors of people and say that on this day Joe bought 5 apples and 4 oranges, on this day he bought 2 kiwis, 2 apples and no oranges etc...but that data doesn’t reliably forecast expected utility for oranges. There are so many exogenous variables that the data is reliably unreliable.

I have yet to see a researcher give a practical empirical formula mapping the utility of a person or group. I argue it is because it is impossible (currently), thus trying to do so doesn’t make sense in practice. I have however, as demonstrated in the link previously, seen formulas which imply weighted preference set’s. Those aren’t any more useful or descriptive than saying that Joe prefers apples to oranges.