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A Note on the Principle of "Normative Individualism"

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  • Christian Schubert

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Abstract

According to the principle of Normative Individualism, the evaluation of economic states and processes should be guided exclusively by the wishes of the individuals who are seen as the only bearer of values. Despite its intuitive appeal and its almost universal acceptance in normative economics (i.e., Welfare Economics as well as Constitutional Economics), the principle itself has received only scarce, mostly skeptical attention in the literature. It has even less been discussed from an explicitly evolutionary perspective on human preference formation processes. It is argued that it may be made compatible with such a perspective if it is transformed into a concept of "developmental individualism" that encompasses three sets of criteria, viz. preference-based, opportunity-based and distributive justice criteria.

Suggested Citation

  • Christian Schubert, 2006. "A Note on the Principle of "Normative Individualism"," Papers on Economics and Evolution 2005-17, Philipps University Marburg, Department of Geography.
  • Handle: RePEc:esi:evopap:2005-17
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Robert Sugden, 2004. "The Opportunity Criterion: Consumer Sovereignty Without the Assumption of Coherent Preferences," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 94(4), pages 1014-1033, September.
    2. Witt, Ulrich, 1996. "Innovations, Externalities and the Problem of Economic Progress," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 89(1-2), pages 113-130, October.
    3. Ulrich Witt, 2006. "Evolutionary Economics," Papers on Economics and Evolution 2006-05, Philipps University Marburg, Department of Geography.
    4. Ulrich Witt, 2003. "Economic policy making in evolutionary perspective," Journal of Evolutionary Economics, Springer, vol. 13(2), pages 77-94, April.
    5. Richard H. Thaler & Cass R. Sunstein, 2003. "Libertarian Paternalism," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 93(2), pages 175-179, May.
    6. Yew-Kwang Ng, 2003. "From preference to happiness: Towards a more complete welfare economics," Social Choice and Welfare, Springer;The Society for Social Choice and Welfare, vol. 20(2), pages 307-350, March.
    7. Bianchi, Marina, 2003. "A questioning economist: Tibor Scitovsky's attempt to bring joy into economics," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 24(3), pages 391-407, June.
    8. Nils Goldschmidt & Bernd Remmele, 2005. "Anthropology as the basic science of economic theory: towards a cultural theory of economics," Journal of Economic Methodology, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 12(3), pages 455-469.
    9. Arrow, Kenneth J, 1994. "Methodological Individualism and Social Knowledge," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 84(2), pages 1-9, May.
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Normative Individualism; Normative Reasoning; Welfare Economics; Variable Preferences; Responsibility;

    JEL classification:

    • B4 - Schools of Economic Thought and Methodology - - Economic Methodology
    • B52 - Schools of Economic Thought and Methodology - - Current Heterodox Approaches - - - Historical; Institutional; Evolutionary
    • D63 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics - - - Equity, Justice, Inequality, and Other Normative Criteria and Measurement
    • I3 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty

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