European Integration - Realities and Perspectives. Proceedings 2017
The Consumer - More than Jus a Number
Silvia –Fotinia Cracan1
Abstract: In the consumption society, the human being risks to become just a number in the statistics. Questions
as “the need generates new products?” or vice versa could be analyzed in economic key but in philosophical
key too. How much the consumption is dedicated to cover real needs and how much is a rush for profit in any
conditions? This paper opens only few subjects of reflection about the individual happiness in the consumption
society where the profit and the competitiveness are basic rules of the businesses and the economy.
Keywords: consumption; choice; happiness
1. The Consumption between Need and Pleasure
This paper starts from the idea that conventional economic theory adopts a deeply utilitarian approach
of the goods and services role for consumers.
Approaching the consumption strictly in terms of economic utility, the consumer will appreciate the
good in terms of satisfaction felt by consuming a given quantity of that good. In order to measure the
utility, the Gossen's law states that with increasing quantity consumed of a good, total utility increases
increasingly less while decreasing marginal utility. So in other words as a consumer consumes a greater
quantity of a good, the satisfaction he obtains or hopes to achieve (total utility) grows increasingly less,
tending finally asymptotically to zero. Moreover, since a consumer consumes a greater quantity of a
good, consuming of each additional unit of that good (marginal utility) generating a satisfaction which
is reduced to zero and can reach up to dissatisfaction.
From this idea, it can be generated a debate with philosophical and even existential connotations: Why
the consumer wants to increase the amount consumed of a good, if the result is decreased total and
marginal utility? The consumer does not perceive, actually, the decrease of total and marginal utility,
but perceive the decrease of intensity of satisfaction, so he reach saturation and then wants something
Deepening the theory of utilitarianism, according to John Stuart Mill “actions are right if tend to promote
happiness and wrong if tend to produce unhappiness, happiness meaning pleasure and unhappiness
meaning pain.” (Crăciun, Morar, & Macoviciuc, 2005, p. 165) Therefore, the consumption as a human
action tends to be satisfied so as to cause happiness.
Again raise questions (and not just for a Socratic approach to analysis):
1 Student, Faculty of Economic Sciences, Danubius University of Galati, Romania, Address: 3 Galati Blvd., Galati 800654,
Romania, Tel.: +40372361102, Corresponding author: firstname.lastname@example.org.