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The news of the death of welfare economics is greatly exaggerated

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  • Marc Fleurbaey

    () (CERSES - UMR 8137 - Centre de recherche sens, ethique, société - UPD5 - Université Paris Descartes - Paris 5 - CNRS - Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique)

  • Philippe Mongin

Abstract

The paper reexamines the controversy about Bergson-Samuelson social welfare functions (BSFs) that took place between welfare economists and social choice theorists as a consequence of Arrow's (1951) impossibility theorem. The 1970's witnessed a new version of the theorem that was meant to establish that BSFs "make interpersonal comparisons of utility or are dictatorial". Against this, Samuelson reasserted the existence of well-behaved "ordinalist" BSFs and generally denied the relevance of Arrovian impossibilities to welfare economics. The paper formalizes and reassesses each camp's arguments. While being also critical of Samuelson's, it eventually endorses his conclusion that welfare economics was left untouched by the controversy. It draws some connections of BSFs with contemporary normative economics.

Suggested Citation

  • Marc Fleurbaey & Philippe Mongin, 2005. "The news of the death of welfare economics is greatly exaggerated," Post-Print hal-00246986, HAL.
  • Handle: RePEc:hal:journl:hal-00246986
    Note: View the original document on HAL open archive server: https://hal.archives-ouvertes.fr/hal-00246986
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Ngoie, Ruffin-Benoit M., 2012. "Choix social et partage équitable : Une analyse mathématique a posteriori des élections législatives et présidentielles de 2006 et 2011 en RDC
      [Social choice and fair sharing: An a posteriori mathe
      ," MPRA Paper 64915, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    2. Mongin, P., 1999. "Normes et jugements de valeur en economie normative," Papers 99-20, Paris X - Nanterre, U.F.R. de Sc. Ec. Gest. Maths Infor..
    3. Antoinette Baujard, 2016. "Welfare economics," Chapters,in: Handbook on the History of Economic Analysis Volume III, chapter 42, pages 611-624 Edward Elgar Publishing.
    4. Gotoh, Reiko & Yoshihara, Naoki, 2013. "Securing Basic Well-being for All," CCES Discussion Paper Series 48, Center for Research on Contemporary Economic Systems, Graduate School of Economics, Hitotsubashi University.
    5. DECANCQ, Koen & FLEURBAEY, Marc & SCHOKKAERT, Erik, 2014. "Inequality, income, and well-being," CORE Discussion Papers 2014018, Université catholique de Louvain, Center for Operations Research and Econometrics (CORE).
    6. Marc Fleurbaey, 2007. "Social choice and the indexing dilemma," Social Choice and Welfare, Springer;The Society for Social Choice and Welfare, vol. 29(4), pages 633-648, December.
    7. Philippe Mongin, 2012. "The doctrinal paradox, the discursive dilemma, and logical aggregation theory," Theory and Decision, Springer, vol. 73(3), pages 315-355, September.
    8. Fabien Candau & Marc Fleurbaey, 2011. "Agglomeration and Welfare with Heterogeneous Preferences," Open Economies Review, Springer, vol. 22(4), pages 685-708, September.
    9. Mariotti, Marco & Veneziani, Roberto, 2014. "The Liberal Ethics of Non-Interference and the Pareto Principle," SIRE Discussion Papers 2014-016, Scottish Institute for Research in Economics (SIRE).
    10. repec:eee:matsoc:v:91:y:2018:i:c:p:75-84 is not listed on IDEAS
    11. Marc Fleurbaey & Guillaume Gaulier, 2009. "International Comparisons of Living Standards by Equivalent Incomes," Scandinavian Journal of Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 111(3), pages 597-624, September.
    12. Stéphane Zuber, 2011. "The aggregation of preferences: can we ignore the past?," Theory and Decision, Springer, vol. 70(3), pages 367-384, March.
    13. John A. Weymark, 2005. "On Kolm's Use of Epistemic Counterfactuals in Social Choice Theory," Vanderbilt University Department of Economics Working Papers 0518, Vanderbilt University Department of Economics.
    14. Allan M Feldman & Roberto Serrano, 2008. "Arrow's Impossibility Theorem: Preference Diversity in a Single-Profile World," Working Papers 2008-8, Brown University, Department of Economics.
    15. Allan M. Feldman & Roberto Serrano, 2007. "Arrow's impossibility theorem: Two simple single-profile versions," Working Papers 2007-07, Instituto Madrileño de Estudios Avanzados (IMDEA) Ciencias Sociales.
    16. Maurice Salles, 2014. "‘Social choice and welfare’ at 30: its role in the development of social choice theory and welfare economics," Social Choice and Welfare, Springer;The Society for Social Choice and Welfare, vol. 42(1), pages 1-16, January.
    17. Fleurbaey, Marc, 2007. "Two criteria for social decisions," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 134(1), pages 421-447, May.

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