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Gödel, Kaplow, Shavell: Consistency and Completeness in Social Decisionmaking

24 Pages Posted: 19 Nov 2003  

Giuseppe Dari‐Mattiacci

Amsterdam Law School; Amsterdam Business School; Tinbergen Institute


The recent debate on what criteria ought to guide social decisionmaking has focused on consistency: it has been argued that criteria contradicting one another - namely, welfare and fairness - should not be simultaneously employed in order for policy assessment to be consistent. In this article, I raise the related problem of completeness - that is, the question of whether or not a set of consistent criteria is capable of providing answers to all social decision problems. If not, as I suggest might be the case, then the only way to decide otherwise undecidable issues is to simultaneously employ both welfare and fairness, which implies a certain degree of inconsistency within the system.

Keywords: completeness, consistencey, efficiency, fairness,values

JEL Classification: A12, A13, K00

Suggested Citation

Dari‐Mattiacci, Giuseppe, Gödel, Kaplow, Shavell: Consistency and Completeness in Social Decisionmaking. Chicago-Kent Law Review, Vol. 79, No. 2, pp. 497-520, 2004; George Mason Law & Economics Research Paper No. 03-55. Available at SSRN: or

Amsterdam Business School ( email )

Roetersstraat 18
Amsterdam, 1018WB

Tinbergen Institute

Gustav Mahlerplein 117
Amsterdam, 1082 MS

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