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Notions of Fairness versus the Pareto Principle: On the Role of Logical Consistency


Louis Kaplow


Harvard Law School; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Steven Shavell


Harvard Law School; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

November 2000

Yale Law Journal, 2000

Abstract:     
Most legal academics and policymakers believe that weight should be accorded to conceptions of fairness in evaluating legal policies. In other writings, we have demonstrated that adherence to any notion of fairness will sometimes lead to a conflict with the Pareto principle. That is, to endorse a notion of fairness is to endorse the view that it can be desirable to adopt a legal rule that will reduce the well-being of every person in society. In this comment, we will be arguing that Howard Chang's position in his reply to one of our articles, in which he suggests that it is possible to imagine some notions of fairness under which this conflict does not exist, is tantamount to an abandonment of logical consistency in normative assessment of policy.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 16

JEL Classification: K00, D63, H43

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Date posted: January 16, 2001  

Suggested Citation

Kaplow, Louis and Shavell, Steven, Notions of Fairness versus the Pareto Principle: On the Role of Logical Consistency (November 2000). Yale Law Journal, 2000. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=255880 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.255880

Contact Information

Louis Kaplow (Contact Author)
Harvard Law School ( email )
1575 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States
617-495-4101 (Phone)
617-496-4880 (Fax)
HOME PAGE: http://www.law.harvard.edu/faculty/directory/facdir.php?id=32&show=bibliography
National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)
1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States
Steven Shavell
Harvard Law School ( email )
1575 Massachusetts
Hauser 406
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States
617-495-3668 (Phone)
617-496-2256 (Fax)
National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)
1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States
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