Cover: What If Utility Functions Do Not Exist?

What If Utility Functions Do Not Exist?

Published 1970

by Fred S. Roberts

Purchase Print Copy

 Format Price
Add to Cart Paperback36 pages $20.00

Discusses alternatives to the strict decisionmaking goal of ranking all alternatives or, equivalently, obtaining a utility function. For many military problems, the best information available is the combined judgments of experts. Often, however, the preferences of decisionmakers are too inconsistent or ambiguous to permit a complete ranking of alternatives or a utility function. Optional methods for dealing with such a situation include (1) finding a procedure through which preferences can be modified to obtain a utility function; (2) using the utility assignment that best approximates a utility function; or (3) modifying the demands on utility functions. This study emphasizes the third alternative, and describes it in terms of techniques from the theory of measurement, recently developed by behavioral scientists, that facilitate decisionmaking where no utility functions exist. (See also RM-5957, RM-6115, RM-6118, RM-6299.)

This report is part of the RAND report series. The report was a product of RAND from 1948 to 1993 that represented the principal publication documenting and transmitting RAND's major research findings and final research.

This document and trademark(s) contained herein are protected by law. This representation of RAND intellectual property is provided for noncommercial use only. Unauthorized posting of this publication online is prohibited; linking directly to this product page is encouraged. Permission is required from RAND to reproduce, or reuse in another form, any of its research documents for commercial purposes. For information on reprint and reuse permissions, please visit

RAND is a nonprofit institution that helps improve policy and decisionmaking through research and analysis. RAND's publications do not necessarily reflect the opinions of its research clients and sponsors.