The John M. Olin Center

Paper Abstract

460. Louis Kaplow and Steven Shavell, Notes on Welfarist Versus Deontological Principles, 02/2004; subsequently published in Economics and Philosophy, Vol. 20, 2004, 209-215.

Abstract: Our thesis in Fairness versus Welfare is that social policies should be assessed entirely on the basis of how they affect individuals' well-being. This claim implies that no independent weight should be granted to deontological principles. We support our thesis with three sets of arguments: a demonstration that deontological principles lead to perverse reductions in welfare, indeed, sometimes to a decline in everyone's well-being; the presentation of numerous other difficulties with the principles, including their lack of intellectually satisfying rationales; and a reconciliation of the intuitive appeal of the principles with our thesis that they should not be viewed as directly relevant to the assessment of social policy. In this essay, we explain that the critique of Professor Ripstein largely fails to respond to any of these arguments.

460: PDF