You know how it’s impossible even in principle to compare people’s utilities and so utilitarianism is a pipe dream that can never possibly work?
Well, I just learned Tufts has a searchable public database of utilities for various health outcomes. It doesn’t seem very good – some of the entries in there make so little sense that I worry that it’s haphazardly combining QALYs (in which higher numbers mean higher utility) and DALYs (in which lower numbers mean higher utility). Either that, or catching the flu decreases your utility more than being totally paralyzed does. But the database exists and is full of numbers, and that’s inspiring.
But this still doesn’t fix my constant gripe that no one has tried to extend this to non-health states. Searches for QALYs for poverty or totalitarian government, for example, mostly just turn up me complaining in various places about how there aren’t any.
Just to see if there is some fundamental impossibility here, and to get enough data to whet my own curiosity, I’ve set up a very amateurish person-who-is-no-good-at-math version of a utility measurement test. If you have a while (15-30 minutes) and are willing to follow confusing instructions, can you take it for me?
(survey closed, thank you for participation)
I agree it’s extremely confusing and most questions are underspecified in various ways, but if you could just take it anyway, try to guess what I mean, and leave anything you don’t get blank, that will be good enough for me.