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The Conflict between Notions of Fairness and the Pareto Principle

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  • Kaplow, Louis
  • Shavell, Steven

Abstract

Most legal academics and policy makers believe that notions of fairness should be accorded positive weight in evaluating legal policies. We explain, however, that ascribing importance to any notion of fairness (other than one concerned solely with the distribution of income) will sometimes lead to a conflict with the Pareto principle. That is, to endorse a notion of fairness is to endorse the view that it can be desirable to adopt a legal rule that will reduce the well-being of every person in society. Copyright 1999 by Oxford University Press.

Suggested Citation

  • Kaplow, Louis & Shavell, Steven, 1999. "The Conflict between Notions of Fairness and the Pareto Principle," American Law and Economics Review, Oxford University Press, vol. 1(1-2), pages 63-77, Fall.
  • Handle: RePEc:oup:amlawe:v:1:y:1999:i:1-2:p:63-77
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    Cited by:

    1. Stefan Mann, 2007. "Comparing Interpersonal Comparisons in Utility Theory and Happiness Research," Forum for Social Economics, Springer;The Association for Social Economics, vol. 36(1), pages 29-42, April.
    2. Garoupa, Nuno & Stephen, Frank, 2003. "A Note on Optimal Law Enforcement with Legal Aid," CEPR Discussion Papers 4113, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    3. Richard Craswell, 2003. "Kaplow and Shavell on the Substance of Fairness," The Journal of Legal Studies, University of Chicago Press, vol. 32(1), pages 245-275, January.
    4. Louis Kaplow & Steven Shavell, 2003. "Fairness versus Welfare: Notes on the Pareto Principle, Preferences, and Distributive Justice," The Journal of Legal Studies, University of Chicago Press, vol. 32(1), pages 331-362, January.
    5. Nuno Garoupa & Hugh Gravelle, 2003. "Efficient Deterrence does not Require that the Wealthy should be Able to Buy Justice," Journal of Institutional and Theoretical Economics (JITE), Mohr Siebeck, Tübingen, vol. 159(3), pages 545-545, September.
    6. Dai, Chifeng, 2009. "The appeals process in principal-agent relationships," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 71(2), pages 451-462, August.
    7. Zhijun Zhao, 2011. "Preference Relativity, Ambiguity and Social Welfare Evaluation," Working Papers 352011, Hong Kong Institute for Monetary Research.
    8. Dominique Demougin & Claude Fluet, 2004. "Deterrence vs Judicial Error: A Comparative View of Standards of Proof," CIRANO Working Papers 2004s-38, CIRANO.
    9. Louis Kaplow, 2006. "Discounting Dollars, Discounting Lives: Intergenerational Distributive Justice and Efficiency," NBER Working Papers 12239, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.

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