Utility and futurity



A person's selection from a restaurant menu will seldom have any major effects on his future life. Most decisions, however—those of individuals, of committees, of corporation stockholders, of state legislatures, of national governments—are made with the realization that they may have far-reaching consequences over long periods of time. Many— sometimes all—of these consequences are uncertain, and thus probability estimation plays an important part in the decision-making process. This paper proposes a taxonomy for such extended choice conditions, and suggests mathematical techniques for studying individual examples.