The theory of consumer behavior in deterministic situations as set out by, say, Debreu
(1959, 1960) or Uzawa (1960) is a thing of great aesthetic beauty, a jewel set in
a glass case. The product of a long process of refinement from the nineteenth-century
utility theorists through Slutsky and Hicks-Allen to the economists of the last twenty-five
years, it has been shorn of all irrelevant postulates so that it now stands as
an example of how to extract the minimum of results from the minimum of assumptions.
In this model we have extended into consumption theory activity analysis, which has
proved so penetrating in its application to production theory. The crucial assumption
in making this application has been the assumption that goods possess, or gire rise
to, multiple characteristics in fixed proportions and that it is these characteristics,
not goods themselves, on which the consumer's preferences are exercised. The result,
as this brief survey of the possibilities has shown, is a model very many rimes richer
in heuristic explanatory and predictive power than the con- ventional model of consumer
behavior and one that deals easily with those many common-sense characteristics of
actual behavior that have found no place in traditional exposition. This paper is
nothing more than a condensed presentation of some of the great number of possible
ways in which the model can be used. It is hoped that a door has been opened to a
new, rich treasure house of ideas for the future development of the most refined
and least powerful branch of economic theory, the theory of the consumer himself.
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