The behavioural economist and the social planner: to whom should behavioural welfare economics be addressed?
This paper compares two alternative answers to the question, 'Who is the addressee of welfare economics?' These answers correspond with different understandings of the status of the normative conclusions of welfare economics, and have different implications for how welfare economics should be adapted in the light of the findings of behavioural economics. The conventional welfarist answer is that welfare economics is addressed to a 'social planner' whose objective is to maximise the overall well-being of society; the planner is imagined as a benevolent despot, receptive to the economist's advice. The alternative contractarian answer is that welfare economics is addressed to individuals who are seeking mutually beneficial agreements; a contractarian recommendation has the form 'It is in the interests of each of you separately that all of you together agree to do x'. Each of these answers should be understood as a literary convention which uses a highly-simplified model of politics. I defend the contractarian approach and show that it is less supportive of 'soft paternalism' than is the welfarist approach.
(This abstract was borrowed from another version of this item.)
|Date of creation:||22 Dec 2011|
|Contact details of provider:|| Postal: Deutschhausstrasse 10, 35032 Marburg|
Web page: http://www.uni-marburg.de/fb19/
More information through EDIRC
References listed on IDEAS
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:
- 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.
- Smith, Adam, 1759. "The Theory of Moral Sentiments," History of Economic Thought Books, McMaster University Archive for the History of Economic Thought, number smith1759.
- Loewenstein, George & Ubel, Peter A., 2008. "Hedonic adaptation and the role of decision and experience utility in public policy," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 92(8-9), pages 1795-1810, August.
- Simon, Herbert A, 1978. "Rationality as Process and as Product of Thought," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 68(2), pages 1-16, May.
- Douglas Bernheim & Antonio Rangel, 2007.
"Beyond Revealed Preference Choice Theoretic Foundations for Behavioral Welfare Economics,"
07-031, Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research.
- B. Douglas Bernheim & Antonio Rangel, 2008. "Beyond Revealed Preference: Choice Theoretic Foundations for Behavioral Welfare Economics," NBER Working Papers 13737, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Ben McQuillin & Robert Sugden, 2012. "How the market responds to dynamically inconsistent preferences," Social Choice and Welfare, Springer;The Society for Social Choice and Welfare, vol. 38(4), pages 617-634, April.
- Ben McQuillin & Robert Sugden, 2011. "How the market responds to dynamically inconsistent preferences," Working Paper series, University of East Anglia, Centre for Behavioural and Experimental Social Science (CBESS) 11-04, School of Economics, University of East Anglia, Norwich, UK..
- Richard H. Thaler & Cass R. Sunstein, 2003. "Libertarian Paternalism," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 93(2), pages 175-179, May.
- Thomas Leonard, 2008. "Richard H. Thaler, Cass R. Sunstein, Nudge: Improving decisions about health, wealth, and happiness," Constitutional Political Economy, Springer, vol. 19(4), pages 356-360, December.
- Richard H. Thaler, 2008. "Mental Accounting and Consumer Choice," Marketing Science, INFORMS, vol. 27(1), pages 15-25, 01-02.
- Richard Thaler, 1985. "Mental Accounting and Consumer Choice," Marketing Science, INFORMS, vol. 4(3), pages 199-214.
- Robert Sugden, 2008. "Why incoherent preferences do not justify paternalism," Constitutional Political Economy, Springer, vol. 19(3), pages 226-248, September.
- Sugden, Robert, 2010. "Opportunity As Mutual Advantage," Economics and Philosophy, Cambridge University Press, vol. 26(01), pages 47-68, March.
- James M. Buchanan, 1954. "Individual Choice in Voting and the Market," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 62, pages 334-334.
- 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. Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)