IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this article

Public Policy and Social Good: Theory, Practice and Beyond


  • Rajesh C. Shukla

    (Saint Paul University, Ottawa, Canada)


In this paper I argue that the most fundamental goal of any public policy is to assist the realization of social good. I take it that the idea of social good has developed differently in different political and moral traditions, and focus my analysis on the interplay of liberalism, virtue ethics and the Capability Approach. I argue that the liberal conception of social good, as espoused by its leading exponents, is somewhat problematic, and that it fails to account for meaningful civic associations. Even though liberal thinkers often prioritize an individual’s freedom and autonomy, they do not provide us with concrete principles that can facilitate the realization of these goals. I draw upon the practical functioning of leading liberal democracies, including the United States, Canada and India, emphasizing the role of normative political constraints in policy making. I conclude that the liberal conception of social good stands in an acute need of a fresh principle that can rectify the above anomalies and reinvigorate its moral force, and that such a principle can probably be constructed with the help of Amartya Sen’s Capability Approach and Aristotle’s Virtue Theory.

Suggested Citation

  • Rajesh C. Shukla, 2017. "Public Policy and Social Good: Theory, Practice and Beyond," Annales. Ethics in Economic Life, University of Lodz, Faculty of Economics and Sociology, vol. 20(4), pages 19-35, December.
  • Handle: RePEc:ann:journl:v:20:y:2017:i:4:p:19-35

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: no

    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Lakshman, Narayan, 2011. "Patrons of the Poor: Caste Politics and Policymaking in India," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780198069980, November.
    2. F. A. v. Hayek, 1936. "The Mythology of Capital," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 50(2), pages 199-228.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    Most related items

    These are the items that most often cite the same works as this one and are cited by the same works as this one.
    1. de Soto Jesus Huerta, 1998. "The Ongoing Methodenstreit of The Austrian School," Journal des Economistes et des Etudes Humaines, De Gruyter, vol. 8(1), pages 1-40, March.
    2. Scott Scheall, 2015. "A Hayekian Explanation of Hayek's 'Epistemic Turn'," Economic Thought, World Economics Association, vol. 4(2), pages 1-32, September.
    3. Jacques-Laurent Ravix, 1999. "Nature et mesure du capital dans la théorie du capital productif de Böhm-Bawerk," Cahiers d'Économie Politique, Programme National Persée, vol. 35(1), pages 37-61.
    4. Malte Faber & Ralph Winkler, 2006. "Heterogeneity and Time," American Journal of Economics and Sociology, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 65(3), pages 803-825, July.
    5. Vipin P. Veetil, 2016. "Out-of-Equilibrium Dynamics with Heterogeneous Capital Goods," New Mathematics and Natural Computation (NMNC), World Scientific Publishing Co. Pte. Ltd., vol. 12(02), pages 157-173, July.
    6. Cameron Harwick, 2022. "Unmixing the metaphors of Austrian capital theory," The Review of Austrian Economics, Springer;Society for the Development of Austrian Economics, vol. 35(2), pages 163-176, June.
    7. Henrik Egbert & Teodor Sedlarski & Aleksandar B. Todorov, 2021. "Foundations of contemporary economics: Frank H. Knight on uncertainty, capital theory, and the beginnings of the Chicago school," Economic Thought journal, Bulgarian Academy of Sciences - Economic Research Institute, issue 6, pages 74-90.
    8. Volkert, Jürgen & Strotmann, Harald & Moczadlo, Regina, 2014. "Sustainable Human Development: Corporate challenges and potentials. The case of Bayer CropScience's cotton seed production in rural Karnataka (India)," UFZ Discussion Papers 5/2014, Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research (UFZ), Division of Social Sciences (ÖKUS).
    9. Denis O’Brien, 2014. "Hayek in the history of economic thought," Chapters, in: Roger W. Garrison & Norman Barry (ed.), Elgar Companion to Hayekian Economics, chapter 2, pages 11-46, Edward Elgar Publishing.

    More about this item


    social good; liberalism; economic policy; virtue ethics; capability approach;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • I31 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty - - - General Welfare, Well-Being
    • Z13 - Other Special Topics - - Cultural Economics - - - Economic Sociology; Economic Anthropology; Language; Social and Economic Stratification
    • Z18 - Other Special Topics - - Cultural Economics - - - Public Policy


    Access and download statistics


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:ann:journl:v:20:y:2017:i:4:p:19-35. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: . General contact details of provider: .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a bibliographic reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: Joanna Dzionek-Kozlowska (email available below). General contact details of provider: .

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.