Procedural utility is an approach to human well-being that emphasizes the conditions and processes that lead to outcomes, rather than only the outcomes. In contrast to outcome utility, which views individual utility as a result of benefits and costs associated with instrumental outcomes, procedural utility highlights the non-instrumental pleasures and displeasures of processes. The procedural view is also important because happiness is more a side product of a “good life,” suggesting that the process, not the outcome, is what matters. This chapter shows that procedural utility is a relevant concept for economics by citing evidence from a broad range of social sciences and other fields. It discusses democratic institutions, procedures for allocating public goods, taxation, income redistribution, and social inequality. It also argues that procedural utility is of great relevance to policy.
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