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Utilitarianism and Discrimination

Author

Listed:
  • Alon Harel

    () (Hebrew University School of Law)

  • Uzi Segal

    () (Boston College)

Abstract

Since Becker (1971), a common argument against asymmetric norms that promote minority rights over those of the majority is that such policies reduce total welfare. While this may be the case, we show that there are simple environments where aggregate sum of individual utilities is actually maximized under asymmetric norms that favor minorities. We thus maintain that without information regarding individual utilities one cannot reject or promote segregation-related policies based on utilitarian arguments.

Suggested Citation

  • Alon Harel & Uzi Segal, 2012. "Utilitarianism and Discrimination," Boston College Working Papers in Economics 797, Boston College Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:boc:bocoec:797
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Christopher Avery & Susan Athey & Peter Zemsky, 2000. "Mentoring and Diversity," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 90(4), pages 765-786, September.
    2. Becker, Gary S., 1971. "The Economics of Discrimination," University of Chicago Press Economics Books, University of Chicago Press, edition 2, number 9780226041162.
    3. John C. Harsanyi, 1955. "Cardinal Welfare, Individualistic Ethics, and Interpersonal Comparisons of Utility," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 63, pages 309-309.
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    Keywords

    Utilitarianism; discrimination; segregation; minority and majority rights;

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