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A Note on the Principle of "Normative Individualism"

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  • Christian Schubert

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Abstract

According to the principle of Normative Individualism, the evaluation of economic states and processes should be guided exclusively by the wishes of the individuals who are seen as the only bearer of values. Despite its intuitive appeal and its almost universal acceptance in normative economics (i.e., Welfare Economics as well as Constitutional Economics), the principle itself has received only scarce, mostly skeptical attention in the literature. It has even less been discussed from an explicitly evolutionary perspective on human preference formation processes. It is argued that it may be made compatible with such a perspective if it is transformed into a concept of "developmental individualism" that encompasses three sets of criteria, viz. preference-based, opportunity-based and distributive justice criteria.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Max Planck Institute of Economics, Evolutionary Economics Group in its series Papers on Economics and Evolution with number 2005-17.

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Length: 25 pages
Date of creation: Mar 2006
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:esi:evopap:2005-17

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Keywords: Normative Individualism; Normative Reasoning; Welfare Economics; Variable Preferences; Responsibility;

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References

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  1. Witt, Ulrich, 1996. " Innovations, Externalities and the Problem of Economic Progress," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 89(1-2), pages 113-30, October.
  2. Yew-Kwang Ng, 2003. "From preference to happiness: Towards a more complete welfare economics," Social Choice and Welfare, Springer, vol. 20(2), pages 307-350, March.
  3. Bianchi, Marina, 2003. "A questioning economist: Tibor Scitovsky's attempt to bring joy into economics," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 24(3), pages 391-407, June.
  4. Robert Sugden, 2004. "The Opportunity Criterion: Consumer Sovereignty Without the Assumption of Coherent Preferences," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 94(4), pages 1014-1033, September.
  5. Ulrich Witt, 2003. "Economic policy making in evolutionary perspective," Journal of Evolutionary Economics, Springer, vol. 13(2), pages 77-94, 04.
  6. Ulrich Witt, 2006. "Evolutionary Economics," Papers on Economics and Evolution 2006-05, Max Planck Institute of Economics, Evolutionary Economics Group.
  7. Nils Goldschmidt & Bernd Remmele, 2005. "Anthropology as the basic science of economic theory: towards a cultural theory of economics," Journal of Economic Methodology, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 12(3), pages 455-469.
  8. Richard H. Thaler & Cass R. Sunstein, 2003. "Libertarian Paternalism," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 93(2), pages 175-179, May.
  9. Arrow, Kenneth J, 1994. "Methodological Individualism and Social Knowledge," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 84(2), pages 1-9, May.
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