Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Is "goodness" a vector?

Utility theory in economics is a contribution to formalizing a notion of "good."  But we now know that the traditional scalar theory of utility is an approximation (Beardon, et al, J. of Mathematical Economics, 37, 17-38, 2002) and that utility must, in general, be a vector (Thrall, Decision Processes, 1960, Wiley, NY).  Similarly, any other formalization of good-evil would be a vector quantity.

It has often been a source of confusion to observe that people can be both good AND evil.  This is now explained in terms of the various vector components, one of which might be quite "positive" (strongly good) while another component might be quite "negative" (strongly bad/evil).

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