Notes on Welfarist Versus Deontological Principles

12 Pages Posted: 21 Sep 2004

See all articles by Louis Kaplow

Louis Kaplow

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

Steven Shavell

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

Date Written: February 2004

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.

JEL Classification: D63, H43, K00

Suggested Citation

Kaplow, Louis and Shavell, Steven, Notes on Welfarist Versus Deontological Principles (February 2004). Harvard Law and Economics Discussion Paper No. 460. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=593525 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.593525

Louis Kaplow (Contact Author)

Harvard Law School ( email )

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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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