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Are Most People Consequentialists?

  • Johansson-Stenman, Olof


    (Department of Economics, School of Business, Economics and Law, Göteborg University)

Welfare economics relies on consequentialism. Whether a public action is good or bad is then determined by the consequences for people, rather than for example by the extent to which it infringes on others’ rights. Yet, many philosophers have questioned this assumption. The present note presents new survey evidence where a representative sample in Sweden are asked about their ethical perceptions with respect to what matters intrinsically. Overall, people’s perceptions are largely consistent with consequentialism.

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Paper provided by University of Gothenburg, Department of Economics in its series Working Papers in Economics with number 467.

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Length: 10 pages
Date of creation: 27 Aug 2010
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:hhs:gunwpe:0467
Contact details of provider: Postal: Department of Economics, School of Business, Economics and Law, University of Gothenburg, Box 640, SE 405 30 GÖTEBORG, Sweden
Phone: 031-773 10 00
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  1. James Konow, 2000. "Fair Shares: Accountability and Cognitive Dissonance in Allocation Decisions," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 90(4), pages 1072-1091, September.
  2. Hausman,Daniel M. & McPherson,Michael S., 2006. "Economic Analysis, Moral Philosophy and Public Policy," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521608664.
  3. Kahneman, Daniel & Knetsch, Jack L & Thaler, Richard, 1986. "Fairness as a Constraint on Profit Seeking: Entitlements in the Market," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 76(4), pages 728-41, September.
  4. Georg Kirchsteiger & Martin Dufwenberg, 2004. "A theory of sequential reciprocity," ULB Institutional Repository 2013/5899, ULB -- Universite Libre de Bruxelles.
  5. Johansson-Stenman, Olof & Martinsson, Peter, 2008. "Are some lives more valuable? An ethical preferences approach," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 27(3), pages 739-752, May.
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  7. John A. List, 2004. "Young, Selfish and Male: Field evidence of social preferences," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 114(492), pages 121-149, 01.
  8. James Konow, 2009. "Is fairness in the eye of the beholder? An impartial spectator analysis of justice," Social Choice and Welfare, Springer, vol. 33(1), pages 101-127, June.
  9. Urs Fischbacher & Simon Gaechter, 2009. "Social Preferences, Beliefs, and the Dynamics of Free Riding in Public Good Experiments," Discussion Papers 2009-04, The Centre for Decision Research and Experimental Economics, School of Economics, University of Nottingham.
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  11. Suzumura, Kotaro & Xu, Yongsheng, 2000. "Consequences, Opportunities, and Generalized Consequentialism and Non-consequentialism," Discussion Paper 5, Center for Intergenerational Studies, Institute of Economic Research, Hitotsubashi University.
  12. James Konow, 2003. "Which Is the Fairest One of All? A Positive Analysis of Justice Theories," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 41(4), pages 1188-1239, December.
  13. Messer, Kent D. & Poe, Gregory L. & Rondeau, Daniel & Schulze, William D. & Vossler, Christian A., 2006. "Exploring Voting Anomalies Using a Demand Revealing Random Price Voting Mechanism," Working Papers 127062, Cornell University, Department of Applied Economics and Management.
  14. Sendhil Mullainathan & Marianne Bertrand, 2001. "Do People Mean What They Say? Implications for Subjective Survey Data," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 91(2), pages 67-72, May.
  15. Sen, Amartya K, 1973. "Behaviour and the Concept of Preference," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 40(159), pages 241-59, August.
  16. Hausman,Daniel M. & McPherson,Michael S., 2006. "Economic Analysis, Moral Philosophy and Public Policy," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521846295.
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