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Substantive versus Procedural Liberalism: Exploring a Dilemma of Contemporary Liberal Thought

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  • Gerhard Wegner

Abstract

Contemporary economic liberalism comes in two forms: a substantive version, which defines the scope and extent of economic policy, and a procedural version, which draws on citizens' preferences. Whereas the recent reconception of economic liberalism based on social-contract theory considers the two versions to be consonant with each other, this paper argues that they differ in ways largely overlooked. It is shown that the dilemma between these two types of liberalism is rooted in an inadequate transfer of the concept of preferences from household to politics. A solution for the dilemma is offered.

Suggested Citation

  • Gerhard Wegner, 2009. "Substantive versus Procedural Liberalism: Exploring a Dilemma of Contemporary Liberal Thought," Journal of Institutional and Theoretical Economics (JITE), Mohr Siebeck, Tübingen, vol. 165(3), pages 535-557, September.
  • Handle: RePEc:mhr:jinste:urn:sici:0932-4569(200909)165:3_535:svplea_2.0.tx_2-k
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Bruno Frey & Matthias Benz & Alois Stutzer, 2004. "Introducing Procedural Utility: Not Only What, but Also How Matters," Journal of Institutional and Theoretical Economics (JITE), Mohr Siebeck, Tübingen, vol. 160(3), pages 377-377, September.
    2. Tito Boeri & Axel Börsch-Supan & Guido Tabellini, 2001. "Would you like to shrink the welfare state? A survey of European citizens," Economic Policy, CEPR;CES;MSH, vol. 16(32), pages 7-50, April.
    3. Roger Congleton, 2007. "On the Feasibility of a Liberal Welfare State: Agency and Exit Costs in Income Security Clubs," Constitutional Political Economy, Springer, vol. 18(3), pages 145-159, September.
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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • B25 - Schools of Economic Thought and Methodology - - History of Economic Thought since 1925 - - - Historical; Institutional; Evolutionary; Austrian; Stockholm School
    • B52 - Schools of Economic Thought and Methodology - - Current Heterodox Approaches - - - Historical; Institutional; Evolutionary
    • H10 - Public Economics - - Structure and Scope of Government - - - General
    • H11 - Public Economics - - Structure and Scope of Government - - - Structure and Scope of Government

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