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Pragmamorphism ….

… is a word I made up.

Anthropomorphism means attributing the qualities of human beings to inanimate things or animals.

As far as I can tell — I don’t know ancient Greek — pragma means a thing.

Pragmamorphism, then, means attributing the qualities of things to humans.

Inanimate objects have unidimensional qualities — length, temperature, pressure, volume, kinetic energy, etc. I thought that pragmamorphism would be a good word for the attempt to assign such one-dimensional metrics that describe things to the mental qualities of humans.

Thus, the idea of IQ — intelligence quotient — is a pragmamorphism. It tries to set a scale like length for intelligence. But intelligence is more diffuse concept, and it’s not clear there is a linear function or scale that measures it well.

I wonder if utility in economics isn’t something similar. It’s clear that people have preferences — that’s a characteristic of humans. But is it clear that there is a FUNCTION that decribes preference, a utility FUNCTION that you can apply calculus to? Or is that an unjustified pragmamorphism?

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