A Pragmatic View of Fairness and Social Welfare in the Analysis of Law

13 Pages Posted: 19 Jun 2020

See all articles by Henrik Lando

Henrik Lando

Copenhagen Business School - CBS Law

Date Written: June 18, 2020


The influential legal philosopher, Alf Ross called for the development of law and economics but was highly skeptical of the use of fairness or social welfare concepts in the consequential analysis of law. I argue that Ross’ dismissal of the concepts was influenced by the philosophy of logical positivism and its narrow definition of meaning. I advocate a pragmatic view of meaning according to which a concept is meaningful if (in short) it can influence a decision maker. And I demonstrate that on this definition concepts of fairness and social welfare can be meaningfully applied in understanding and prescribing law.

Keywords: Legal philosophy, Alf Ross, Logical positivism, Pragmatism, Fairness

JEL Classification: K00, K40, K49

Suggested Citation

Lando, Henrik, A Pragmatic View of Fairness and Social Welfare in the Analysis of Law (June 18, 2020). Copenhagen Business School, CBS LAW Research Paper No. 20-09, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3630533

Henrik Lando (Contact Author)

Copenhagen Business School - CBS Law ( email )

Porcelaenshave 18B, 1
Frederiksberg 2000

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