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Public Choice and Altruism

Author

Listed:
  • Karl Widerquist

    () (Oxford University)

Abstract

The public choice literature has paid little attention to altruism, and the few works that do deal with it usually focus on the tradeoff between selfish and unselfish preferences, assuming some shared set of unselfish preferences. This focus leaves the question open as to whether unselfish but conflicting beliefs can be the source of public choice problems. This paper examines conflicting ethical beliefs among purely altruistic individuals to show that many of the problems that appear to go away if people are altruistic (assuming notions of the public interest are shared) return if notions of the public interest conflict no matter how altruistic people may be.

Suggested Citation

  • Karl Widerquist, 2003. "Public Choice and Altruism," Eastern Economic Journal, Eastern Economic Association, vol. 29(3), pages 317-337, Summer.
  • Handle: RePEc:eej:eeconj:v:29:y:2003:i:3:p:317-337
    as

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    File URL: http://web.holycross.edu/RePEc/eej/Archive/Volume29/V29N3P317_337.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Altruism;

    JEL classification:

    • D64 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics - - - Altruism; Philanthropy; Intergenerational Transfers
    • D7 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making

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