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The Possibility of a Welfare Policy in a World of Emotion-Driven Individuals: A Humean Point of View


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  • André Lapidus

    (PHARE - Pôle d'Histoire de l'Analyse et des Représentations Economiques - CNRS : FRE2541 - Université Panthéon-Sorbonne - Paris I - Université de Paris X - Nanterre)


Based on Hume's major philosophical works and on some of his Essays, this paper discusses formally the feasibility, from a Humean point of view, of a welfare policy which would aim at promoting the highest individual happiness whereas individual decisions, like individual happiness, are determined not only by allocations of goods, but also by an emotional state. It is shown that both the intertemporal structure of the problem and the role that Hume granted to the ‘calm passion' allow solving the problem, at least in principle.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by HAL in its series Post-Print with number hal-00538106.

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Date of creation: 2011
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Publication status: Published, Freedom and happiness in economic thought and philosophy, Routledge (Ed.), 2011, 212-228
Handle: RePEc:hal:journl:hal-00538106

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Keywords: Hume; happiness; decision; pleasure; belief; emotion; violence of the passion; welfare policy;

This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:


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  1. Marc-Arthur Diaye & Andre Lapidus, 2005. "Why rationality may be a consequence of Hume's theory of choice," The European Journal of the History of Economic Thought, Taylor & Francis Journals, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 12(1), pages 119-126.
  2. Marc-Arthur Diaye & André Lapidus, 2005. "A Humean Theory of Choice of which Rationality May Be One Consequence," Post-Print hal-00343841, HAL.
  3. André Lapidus, 2010. "The Valuation of Decision and Individual Welfare: A Humean Approach," Post-Print hal-00344868, HAL.
  4. Ignacio Palacios-Huerta, 2003. "Time-Inconsistent Preferences in Adam Smith and David Hume," History of Political Economy, Duke University Press, vol. 35(2), pages 241-268, Summer.
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